This World Wetlands Day, today, Feb. 2, the province is inviting Nova Scotians to help increase understanding of the province’s wetlands by gathering and reporting valuable information to the Department of Environment. As part of a new Vernal Pool Mapping and Monitoring Project, the department is looking for volunteer citizen scientists to collect data on vernal pools in their communities. Vernal pools are small, shallow, often temporary wetlands. “We know that Nova Scotians care deeply about our natural environment,” said Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau. “This community monitoring project is a great way for people to gather information that will help increase understanding of our important wetlands.” Volunteers are being asked to send details about local vernal pools, including their location, size, depth, how long the area stays wet, and a digital photo to the Department of Environment using an online form available at: www.gov.ns.ca/nse/wetland/docs/Vernal.Pool.Data.Sheet.pdf . Vernal pools provide breeding habitat for frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp, and many other species, but more information is needed to improve understanding of these important habitats. Through this project, the department will develop a database of vernal pools around the province. World Wetlands Day has been celebrated internationally on Feb. 2 since 1997. Government agencies, non-government organizations and community groups have marked World Wetlands Day by raising public awareness of the value and benefits of wetlands and promoting wetland conservation. The vernal pool project meets two actions of Nova Scotia’s water resource management strategy Water for Life. The project builds capacity for community monitoring in watersheds across the province and identifies ecologically significant water resources, such as wetlands. Last fall, the province released its Wetland Conservation Policy with a goal of preventing the net loss of wetlands. The policy protects wetlands of special significance, promotes wetland protection and stewardship, encourages a long-term net gain in wetland types that have experienced high losses, and raises awareness on the benefits of maintaining buffers near wetlands when developing new areas. For more information on the Vernal Pool Mapping and Monitoring Project, visit www.gov.ns.ca/nse/wetland/vernal.pool.mapping.project.asp. Nova Scotia’s water resource management strategy, Water for Life, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/water.strategy/docs/WaterStrategy_Water.Resources.Management.Strategy.pdf . Nova Scotia’s Wetland Conservation Policy is available at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/wetland/ .