Cumulative Effects

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of collaborating with staff from the Muskoka Watershed Council and the District Municipality of Muskoka at their offices in Bracebridge, Ontario. Quite aside from the joy of visiting the most famous 'cottage country' in Canada, this was an amazing opportunity for ACAP Saint John to grow, as we continue to build toward a cumulative effects monitoring programme for Saint John Harbour.

Port Carling. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

Beginning in the Spring of 2015, ACAP has taken the reins of the Saint John Harbour Environmental Monitoring Partnership [SJH-EMP], charging ourselves with the immense task of uniting over two dozen stakeholder groups, ranging from government regulators, to industrial users, to academic researchers, all in the name of better science and a healthier harbour. This is a continuation of a multi-year project directed and funded by the Canadian Water Network [CWN], designed to, "build consistency in monitoring programs in the Saint John Harbour by understanding the spatial and temporal variability in sediment contaminants, macroinvertebrates and the best biosentinel species being determined by this project. The goal of the research is to design a long term monitoring program for the harbour that is recognized by regulators and users, and enable the incorporation of the information with partners and end users." Link

Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

So why was I in Muskoka on a beautiful weekday in late May? The answer lies in the latter part of the above quote, because the "incorporation of the information with partners and end users," while not rocket science, is indeed a complicated and delicate task. Luckily, Saint John is not alone in these challenges, and the five other CWN watershed nodes [of which we were the first] that exist across the country each have their own expertise, software and research from which we can build and learn. What is particularly exciting for me, as a data manager, geographer and researcher, is the ability to draw technical expertise and database tools from these other watershed nodes. Thanks to meetings like these in Muskoka, ACAP will be better suited to take the brilliant science of academics at UNB and the Canadian Rivers Institute [CRI], the rigour of federal and provincial government scientists, along with the knowledge generation capabilities of our industrial partners, and allow Saint John to develop long-term monitoring programmes for our harbour.    

Muskoka Beach Road. Photo: Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015

While the work continues behind the scenes, keep an eye out for more information on this exciting project coming later in the year, including plain-language research outcomes from the amazing teams at CRI and details of ACAP's ongoing work to bring the stories of our region's environment directly to our community.

Lake Muskoka. Photo, Graeme Stewart-Robertson, 2015