Submitted by the Muskoka Watershed Council
Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) approved a paper at its January meeting outlining the need for integrated watershed management (IWM) in Muskoka. The paper formed the basis for MWC’s submission to the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group and contains a number of recommendations for how to implement IWM in Muskoka.
With our extensive natural areas and numerous lakes and waterways, Muskoka is rich in natural capital, which is vital to our economy and the quality of our lives. Effective management can sustain that capital to the maximum extent possible while permitting the development required to house our population and sustain our economy.
This natural capital – the soils, forests, grasslands, wetlands – also plays a role in determining the flow of water into streams, rivers and lakes. However, we lack a detailed understanding of how natural capital affects flow from place to place across our watershed, and how climate change may modify these regulating processes.
MWC recommends that an advanced form of integrated watershed management (IWM) be implemented in Muskoka, ultimately to drive all aspects of environmental management and land-use planning.
Recognizing the strong dependence of the economy and community on a high quality environment, IWM can be designed to meet the needs and goals of every business owner, wage earner, property owner and visitor in the watershed. By integrating socio-economic criteria with environmental management, IWM is intended to create more sustainable communities.
While there are significant challenges in implementing IWM, it is the most appropriate way to move environmental management and land-use planning forward in Muskoka. Nature, particularly in a changing climate, is making the old ways of managing it ineffective. To support the introduction of IWM in Muskoka, MWC has proposed convening stakeholders in a Roundtable, and starting the process of developing the rules and building the collaboration necessary for successful Integrated Watershed Management.
Download your copy of “The Case for Integrated Watershed Management in Muskoka” on the MWC website at muskokawatershed.org.
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