Ducks Unlimited Canada
National Boreal Program
17504 111th Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
T5S 0A2

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The FMWSI's Guiding Principles for Wetland Stewardship and Forest Management project was developed to document current knowledge of the relationship between boreal wetlands and forests and to support the integration of wetland stewardship into forest management.

Why are wetlands important for forests?



Boreal wetlands are diverse, abundant, and often highly interconnected, forming large complexes composed of multiple wetland types. Boreal wetlands make up over 30% of Canada’s boreal forest and provide important ecosystem services including water storage and filtration, carbon storage, and habitat provisioning.

The majority of boreal wetlands are peatlands. These peatlands supply water to upland forests, mineral wetlands, and other water bodies. The water and nutrients that move through these surface and sub-surface connections are important for forest productivity and resiliency.

Wetlands play an important role in landscape and regional hydrologic processes and may help mitigate the effects of climate change and wildfires.

Why is wetland stewardship important for forest management?

Wetlands are sensitive ecosystems that can be affected by forest industry activities such as resource road construction and forest harvest. Activities may result in wetland loss, fragmentation, hydrologic impairment, introduction of invasive species, or other changes that affect the ecological health of the wetland.



Wetland characteristics such as high water tables, weak organic soils, and other hydrological and ecological properties can cause challenges from operational and planning perspectives including:

  • Safety concerns related to working in and around open water or in areas with deep organic soils
  • Need for specialized equipment or shorter time windows to minimize environmental damage
  • Higher road maintenance costs and time due to high potential for hydrological impairment

Wetlands are increasingly recognized in policy, regulation and industry certifications and are valued by Canadians for the numerous ecosystem services they provide.

What are the ‘Guiding Principles’ for wetland stewardship and forest management?


Treed rich fen. © DUC

This project describes four guiding principles that can be used to better incorporate wetland stewardship into forest management planning:

  • Maintain wetland quantity
  • Maintain wetland quality
  • Maintain hydrologic processes
  • Maintain hydrologic connectivity

Working to achieve these principles by applying wetland avoidance and minimization planning considerations will support other related values such as biodiversity, riparian habitats, forest health and productivity, and soil productivity.

Who is this for?

The Guiding Principles for Wetland Stewardship and Forest Management were developed to provide guidance on boreal wetland science and stewardship to forest management decision makers. The content of the associated Practitioner Guide is aimed at the highest level of planning, but may also be applicable to other forestry professionals in a range of positions

A third project as part of the FMWSI will launch in spring 2019 and will address planning and operating best management practices for working in and around wetlands.


Tools for foresters to plan for wetland stewardship

Under the FMWSI, members developed a short user-friendly Practitioner Guide and full-length Technical Report.

guiding principles for wetland stewardship and forest management practitioner guide

guiding principles for wetland stewardship and forest management technical report














These two products describe:

  • Interactions between boreal wetlands, forests, and forest industry activities
  • Four guiding principles for wetland stewardship – maintaining wetland quantity, quality, hydrologic processes, and hydrologic connectivity
  • Seven stewardship objectives that address potential adverse effects of forest industry activities
  • Planning considerations to promote wetland avoidance and minimization
  • Knowledge gaps and areas for future research

Working together to advance wetland and waterfowl stewardship

DUC would like to thank FMWSI partner companies and their representatives for contributing their time, expertise, and resources to the Guiding Principles for Wetland Stewardship and Forest Management project and the FMWSI initiative.

Other FMWSI projects and tools

Forestry and Waterfowl: Assessing and Mitigating Risk

Banner photo credit: Millar Western