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What is Netley-Libau Marsh?
Netley-Libau marsh is the largest freshwater coastal wetland in North America, covering an area of approximately 22,000 hectares. It is situated at the south basin of Lake Winnipeg, where the Red River meets the Lake, and is the last wetland that the Red River encounters before reaching Lake Winnipeg. Netley-Libau Marsh consists of shallow lakes, lagoons, and channels, with a mix of emergent and submergent vegetation.
Why is Netley-Libau Marsh so important?
Netley-Libau Marsh provides numerous ecological goods and services. The vegetation in the marsh plays a pivotal role in removing harmful nutrients from surrounding habitats, including from Lake Winnipeg. In addition, Netley-Libau Marsh is an important habitat for birds, fish, wildlife, and invertebrates. With its vast reach, Netley-Libau Marsh impacts a multitude of communities with diverse demographics, including those relying on the marsh and surrounding habitats for cultural, commercial, and recreational purposes.
Why is Netley-Libau Marsh deteriorating?
Throughout the past century, the condition of Netley-Libau Marsh has been substantially altered through eutrophication, invasive species, dredging, and water management, such that it has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer a healthy functional wetland. Netley-Libau marsh has experienced a measurable loss of plant communities, aquatic vegetation, and wetland areas; the erosion of channels; and an amalgamation of water bodies.
With more water and less vegetation, Netley-Libau Marsh has a reduced capacity to remove harmful nutrients from the surrounding habitats. The changes in the marsh have led to a reduction in fish habitat, wildlife, and water bird populations. The net result of these changes is that Netley-Libau Marsh no longer provides the suite of ecological goods and services that it has historically. Restoration and management of Netley-Libau Marsh would help to restore the health of the marsh, allowing it to provide numerous benefits for the surrounding habitats once again.
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