Taking the Necessary Steps

Ducks Unlimited Research Chair

Ducks Unlimited and the University of Saskatchewan Forge a New Partnership

It’s often said that wars in the future will be fought over water. Let’s certainly hope this never comes to pass. However, the sentiment is not terribly off point considering the incredible importance of the resource. Water is arguably the most highly valued resource on the planet. In Saskatchewan, we are not blessed with an abundance of fresh water. Therefore, we need to be prudent with its allocation. Our major industries use plenty of it and between commercial and residential usage, water supply (and quality) is stretched thin throughout the province.

A New Partnership

To address water stewardship and conservation, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the University of Saskatchewan have announced a partnership to create the Ducks Unlimited Canada Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation. The first initiative of its kind in Canada, it will teach and supervise students, coordinate education and research, and do outreach to address the complex environmental challenges that face land, water and wildlife in the province.

An endowed chair is financed from outside of a research institute in support of a faculty member or researcher to pursue academic research around a specific theme. This generally implies that money is provided by a donor, an individual or organization, that will fund the research in its entirety. In this case, $5 million has been allocated to support the high-level research required to address this ever-important issue.

Why It’s Vital

There are several reasons why people should care about this initiative, but to begin, water is fundamental to the health and success of our major industries. Speaking with Karsten Liber, executive director at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability, he says, “Agriculture is a dominant industry in Saskatchewan and a part of the province’s identity. And it’s completely linked to access to water. If you don’t have access to water, you have no agriculture.” If you want to preserve agriculture, we must also preserve water, both in quantity and quality.

Preserving wetlands is crucial to preserving water on the prairies. Most of Saskatchewan is dryland agriculture and relies on rain, but this source of water is not always consistent. “It is crucial to take into consideration the protection of surface water and the protection of biodiversity. And an important aspect of water conservation is that there is not over-use and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides that can end up in drinking water and groundwater,” says Liber.

There are effective ways to go about this kind of conservation. Ongoing research will develop best practices that will lend themselves to the preservation of this crucial resource. Balancing the industrial, commercial, and residential needs with environmental concerns is complex, but it is not impossible. It is well worth the investment because that balance will ensure sustainability in the province for generations to come.