A watershed is defined as a geographic area bounded by topographic features that drain waters to a shared destination. Within the geographic boundaries of a watershed, ecological functions are interconnected and interdependent; and when one component is altered, other components may experience the consequence. Watershed stewardship therefore focuses on enhancing, monitoring and conserving the ecological health and biodiversity within a given watershed.
A watershed follows natural boundaries; the environment does not recognize political boundaries. As a result, effective watershed stewardship requires collaboration among communities and all levels of government. In order for watershed stewardship to be successful and the full benefits felt by the environment, the related programs must be transparent, accessible and easily applied by watershed residents. In other words, the programs must be community-based and ensure community involvement.
Why Watershed Stewardship?
(Adapted from Langley Environmental Partners Society et al. 2003)
- Watersheds are the best unit to monitor natural processes. Since a watershed’s natural elements are connected and interdependent, cause and effect actions are not isolated. Therefore conservation, enhancement and monitoring are most effective at a watershed scale.
- Watershed stewardship is economically efficient. A growing concept in environmental management is that prevention is more cost effective than remediation. Watershed stewardship allows for the conservation, enhancement and preservation of natural features before human induced degradation and costly actions occur.
- Watershed stewardship conserves, enhances and/or assists ecological services. Watershed stewardship programs educate watershed residents and institutes practices that can benefit ecological services. For example, programs can aid in providing a clean reliable water supply through public education and practical guidelines.
- Watershed stewardship provides social services. Watershed stewardship builds a sense of community and encourages people to work together, learn together and reach a common set of goals that benefit both the watershed. As well, by increasing a watershed’s ecological integrity, the surrounding area becomes more “attractive” and benefits by means of increased business, employment opportunities, education, civic involvement, recreation and tourism.
- Watershed stewardship supports international commitments. One cannot view watershed stewardship and its associated benefits as an isolated cause and effect solution. On a national and global scale, the environment faces the same challenges and is in need of similar solutions adapted to the area of concern. When initiating watershed based projects and programs, benefits are contributing to international targets and adding to the betterment of the global environment.
8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Stewardship Program Supervisor
Tel: (519) 631-1270 ext. 229