Best Practices

Best Practices seeks to facilitate initiatives to not only protect and preserve headwaters but to improve Ontario’s framework approach to watershed management.

The first project in this portfolio will facilitate a discussion on what, where, and how Ontario might develop a community of practice around what the OHI calls Enhanced Watershed Management. Discussion will be supported by postings to the Science, Policy, and Performance thread of the OHI Blog and through shared learning via the OHI webinar series, Pools and Riffles.

Why Enhanced Watershed Management?

Ontario needs to re-capture the flow on watershed management. From being a world leader in the establishment of conservation authorities, significant lands conservation, and driving improved protection of the Great Lakes, we now inhabit a landscape of under-funded science, contradictions and gaps in policies and their implementation, and inadequate monitoring and reporting.

There is still a solid foundation upon which to build. This includes dedicated staff in progressive natural heritage agencies; ecosystem approaches such as adaptive management and integrated watershed management; commitments to ecological integrity, biodiversity, and natural capital; and new technologies, from GIS-based analysis to low impact development.

Unfortunately, while many regional agencies and especially conservation authorities are embracing new approaches and getting closer to their populations, the Province appears to be comfortable with a land use planning framework that allocates a junior role for watershed management. In addition, the Province has essentially ruled out-of-order any discussion about integrated watershed management, a framework being applied by many countries, individual conservation authorities, and that has been recommended for implementation in Ontario by numerous organizations, academics, and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

Regardless of what we call it – integrated watershed management, collaborative watershed management, etc – the OHI believes that Ontario would benefit from a broad discussion on how to enhance the delivery of our framework approach to watershed management.

Aspects of that discussion, involving government agencies, civil society, and the private sector, might address the following questions:

  • Where are the science, policy, and performance gaps in Ontario’s approach to watershed management?
  • What would enhanced watershed management look like in Ontario; and,
  • How could enhanced watershed management be implemented in Ontario?

Please check back shortly for upcoming efforts on Enhanced Watershed Management or go to Subscribe and register for alerts from the OHI Blog.