Water stewardship doesn’t top most people’s “to do” list. But if Wildsight and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation have their way, it just might. Wildsight, 20-year veteran of water stewardship initiatives, and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, from Manitoba, have put their skills together to create Living Lakes Network Canada.
Living Lakes is an international network, developed by Global Nature Fund in Germany, that helps in the protection, restoration and rehabilitation of the world’s lakes and wetlands. It’s supported by 70 environmental organizations representing 64 lakes and wetlands worldwide. Regional networks have sprouted up in Europe, Latin America and Africa. Now it’s Canada’s turn.
“Canada is gifted with freshwater,” said Heather Leschied, with Wildsight’s Water Stewardship program. “Thousands of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands give it the world’s largest area of surface freshwater. Caring for these resources is important to ecosystems and, ultimately, to human health.”
Leschied said that water stewardship is a balance of science, action and legislation.
“Nowadays, citizens are responsible for a lot of water stewardship action,” Leschied said. “But the best practices of water stewardship, including monitoring, public education and community support, need to be available to the groups who are doing the work.”
Before creating LLNC earlier this year, Wildsight and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation approached several water scientists for guidance.
“The scientific community affirmed that Living Lakes Network Canada is an essential way to fill the gap between science and on-the-ground water stewardship,” Leschied said. She added that water stewardship activities—monitoring, data collection, and planning—are direct ways to show people how climate change is affecting and will affect their water supplies.
“This is essential information for societies to know as they make decisions about watershed protection,” Leschied said.
So far, more than a dozen community water stewardship groups in Canada have expressed interest in belonging to LLNC.
“Stay tuned for more information about this network,” Leschied said. “It’s an honour for Wildsight to be involved and we are very excited about the good it’s going to do for Canada’s freshwater resources.”