Water quality is the number one priority for Environment Council because it is the most important factor in a healthy ecosystem. A diversity of plants and wildlife thrive in healthy lake water. But when water quality declines it poses a risk to the health of humans and the ecosystem. To measure the health of our water, EC is involved in a variety of testing methods, including dissolved oxygen sampling, aquatic plant and algae monitoring and benthic biomonitoring.
Environmental protection and education go hand in hand. At the Environment Council, we are dedicated to educating ourselves and our community in support of future-focussed solutions to lake-based environmental challenges.
Recent educational initiatives include:
• An interactive shoreline restoration workshop, led by landscaping expert Douglas Kennedy of Green Side Up Environmental Services and Landscaping (left); this was just one piece of our shoreline education plan in 2019
• A presentation on Climate Reality and how it’s affecting our lakes, courtesy of Christine Tu, aquatic ecologist and climate change advisor – CLICK HERE to read Christine's presentation
• Sustainable Cottaging Day on Stoney Lake – an event organized by a joint committee including the EC; other contributions to the day – our Healthy Shorelines information booth and our sponsorship of the Ontario Turtle Conversation Centre's involvement
• A special meeting addressing provincial budget cuts to water quality monitoring in Ontario lakes led by Terry Rees, Executive Director, FOCA
As a small community-based conservation group we would be nothing without you, our supporters and volunteers, whom we count on for financial aid and participation in our hands-on projects and advocacy campaigns. In short, you increase our capacity to effect positive change in our local watershed and we do our best to ensure that our work and educational seminars are fun and enlightening.
To volunteer with the EC, click the button, below.
WHAT IS IT?
Ecosystem monitoring is a way to measure changes in the ecosystem health over time. An ecosystem is considered healthy if it has ecological integrity, which means it has:
• Biodiversity – a diversity of native species present
• Natural functioning ecosystems to sustain life processes (e.g. wetlands that can filter water and provide habitat for frogs, turtles and many other fish and wildlife species)
• Minimal or no stressors – factors that impact the health of our lakes include invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, large scale development, shoreline alterations and water level fluctuations
WHY MONITOR ECOSYSTEMS?
Current research and monitoring programs often look at a single species when in fact we are seeing multiple stressors causing rapid changes that impact full aquatic ecosystems. An aquatic ecosystem approach will allow us to monitor indicators of ecosystem health to better understand and protect biodiversity, habitats and natural processes needed to sustain healthy functioning ecosystems.
Multiple stressors are impacting aquatic ecosystems (e.g., invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, development, water level fluctuations)
Rapid and unpredictable changes impacting both structure and function of ecosystems.
Research activities are often opportunistic, focus on a single species or stressor and not coordinated with long-term monitoring.
Lack updated, long-term data needed to assess development impacts and to inform resource management actions to protect biodiversity and ecosystem health.
Overall decline in aquatic ecosystem health (decline in native species, increase in invasive species, loss of fish habitat and decline in water quality).