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Water Today Title January 27, 2021

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Update 2018/6/27
Sea Level Rise


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by Michelle Moore

The Government of Canada and Saint Mary's University in Halifax are partnering up to restore Nova Scotia's salt water marshes as part of a defence against rising sea levels and storm surge caused by climate change.

$1.8 million will be put towards restoring over 75 hectares of salt marshes in this new project called Making Room for Wetlands: Implementation of Managed Realignment for Salt Marsh Restoration and Climate Change Adaptation in Nova Scotia.

The project will be undertaken through a partnership between Saint Mary's University and CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES). The focus will be on areas in the Bay of Fundy region.

The project lead and professor at Saint Mary's University, Dr. Danika van Proosdij said "this support from the federal government is crucial. We will use it to create new salt marsh habitat around the Bay of Fundy and beyond, addressing the impact of climate change on our region and tackling a global problem."

Aging dykes will be restored. Those that cannot be restored will be decommissioned rather than replaced. Instead the project will harness the natural features of the landscape to fulfill the same purpose.

Last year, research from Ontario's University of Waterloo showed that wetlands like marshes can serve the same purposes as modern infrastructure that municipalities and provincial governments typically build to stop floodwater.

Grey infrastructure like dykes are on their way out. Instead the restoration of wetlands, or green infrastructure, is being capitalized on. The study was ordered by Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and determined that maintaining wetlands can reduce the financial costs of floods by up to 38 per cent.

Proosdij added "using nature-based strategies and restructuring dyke systems, we will create new vibrant ecosystems for marine life to prosper and new marshes that can absorb rising sea levels and storm surges."

Project leaders will also consult with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, Queen's University Department of Civil Engineering, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Dalhousie University's School of Planning and School of Resource and Environmental Studies.

The project is part of the federal government's $75 million Coastal Restoration Fund. Three other organizations will receive an additional $5 million dollars for their own coastal restoration projects in Nova Scotia and the Arctic; the Clean Foundation, Dalhousie University and Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council.


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