Living Lakes Canada to celebrate many milestones at world wetlands conference

Living Lakes Canada is heading to Valencia, Spain for the 15th International Living Lakes Conference on May 7-9, 2019.

The conference, titled the “World Congress for Wetland and Lake Restoration”, will mark two other milestones: the 20th anniversary of the international Living Lakes network, and 15 years since an International Living Lakes Conference was held in Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C., which led to the formation of Living Lakes Canada in 2010.

“We’re very excited to be participating in this international wetlands event. We are able to do so thanks to the interest of Kicking Horse Coffee, which was a sponsor and participant in the Fairmont conference 15 years ago and has provided support for increased stewardship for our local wetlands,” said Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Kat Hartwig.

CAPTION: The Columbia Wetlands in the East Kootenay, BC are a RAMSAR-designated Wetland of International Importance still in need of protection and stewardship. Photo by Heather Leschied/Living Lakes Canada

The 2004 International Living Lakes Conference in Fairmont showcased the Columbia River headwaters and Columbia Wetlands, a RAMSAR-designated Wetland of International Importance. The CEO of Kicking Horse Coffee, Elana Rosenfeld, addressed the conference theme of engaged corporate and social responsibility for the environment. The CEOs of Mountain Equipment Co-op and Unilever Canada also spoke about the significance of the Columbia River headwaters and wetlands on a global scale.  

“It feels like we have come full circle in a way,” said Heather Leschied, Operations Director for Living Lakes Canada, “so it is quite meaningful that Living Lakes Canada will be travelling to Spain, not only to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Living Lakes network, but 15 years since the International Living Lakes Conference was held in Canada and was the inspiration for all of our Living Lakes Canada water stewardship work. These conferences support engaged, passionate people to share how their contributions to the health of watersheds are making a difference, and are incredibly motivating and impactful.”

Five of Living Lakes Canada’s team members will be attending the Valencia conference and highlights will include visiting local wetland restoration sites and connecting with Living Lakes International partners to share best community­-based water stewardship practices.

Living Lakes Canada will reciprocate by presenting on some of the exciting work currently underway in the Columbia Basin and across Canada:

Several of the Living Lakes Canada team members will be staying after the conference to join Living Lakes International on a trip to Sierra de Mariola and the ecological cellar as well as a trip to Marjal dels Moros Coastal Wetland. The team hopes to bring back lessons from this experience and integrate it into the work they are doing in Canada.

“Having the opportunity to showcase our work to international partners is invaluable. Our team works so hard and is so passionate about the change we are making through our projects,” said Living Lakes Canada Program Coordinator Avery Deboer-Smith. “We are also looking forward to learning from our international partners and creating new relationships that will advance Living Lakes Canada.”

Access the 15th International Living Lakes Conference website here. 

 

New eDNA project STREAM launching Spring/Summer 2019

STREAM (Sequencing the Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring) DNA, is a new community-based project which involves the collection of eDNA from rivers across Canada. STREAM is a collaboration between Living Lakes Canada (LLC) World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the University of Guelph. The project will work with interested partners including community and water stewardship groups, academia, Indigenous communities, all levels of government and industry to collect data for stream health assessments.

This project will use an updated version of the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) protocol, developed by ECCC to collect eDNA samples using biomonitoring of benthic invertebrates, or the small animals on the bottom of the stream. Benthic invertebrates are strong indicators of water quality since the small organisms included in that group are highly sensitive to pollutants and other changes that impact aquatic ecosystem health. See infographics below.

The University of Guelph received a $2.6 million grant from Genome Canada to support eDNA sample analysis for communities for 3 years. The goal is to collect 1500 samples from 15 nationally distributed watersheds over 3 years (5 watersheds/year) with community-based water monitoring (CBWM). Participants will learn and build skills for stream health assessments, open sourced data inputs and access while using new, more cost-effective technology. Following the announcement earlier this year, the STREAM project will focus on 5 priority watersheds for Year 1 including the Columbia, Skeena Liard in British Columbia, the Bow Valley in Alberta and Sudbury in Ontario.

Living Lakes Canada will train and certify interested organizations using an adapted CABIN protocol to include eDNA analysis. Participants will receive their 2-day CABiN field practicum certification during the courses. Living Lakes Canada and partners will assist interested organizations in their first year of sampling, offering knowledge in site selection and monitoring. The organizations will then commit to maintaining the project in later years, submitting samples to the University of Guelph and commit to sharing data in open platforms.

Our first CABIN course is scheduled for the Columbia Basin for June 12 and 13 in Nelson, BC.

We also have scheduled courses in:

Canmore, AB July 16 & 17

Sudbury, ON September 17 & 18

If you have questions about this course, please email LLC Program Manager Raegan Mallinson at raegan@livinglakescanada.ca.

For more information on the CABIN protocol and biomonitoring, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-aquatic-biomonitoring-network.html

For more information on course costs, modules and levels of training and registration visit:

 http://canadianriversinstitute.com/training/cabin/

WEBINAR: Elevating Community-Based Water Monitoring in Canada

Date: April 17, 2019 1:00 pm Eastern Time (ET)
Type: other
Cost: $0.00
Location: Online
Phone: 250-505-4311
Email: raegan@livinglakescanada.ca

Please join us for a presentation and discussion about the exciting outcomes of a year-long collaborative initiative designed to celebrate and promote community-based monitoring of freshwater ecosystems in across Canada. We are pleased to present final recommendations developed to identify actionable steps the federal government can take to show leadership and support in advancing community-based water monitoring (CBWM) in Canada.

During this webinar we’ll revisit the history and the process behind the initiative, dive into the recommendations and discuss next steps.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

 Ahead of the webinar, be sure to explore the final recommendations and discussion paper.

CBWN Roundtable Final Recommendations released

These recommendations are the outcome of the national roundtable discussion convened in November, 2018 by Living Lakes Canada, WWF-Canada and The Gordon Foundation. All three organizations engage with Community-Based Water Monitoring (CBWM) in different ways and are committed to advancing collaborative and evidence-based water stewardship across Canada.

The Roundtable was aimed at identifying actionable steps the federal government can take to show leadership and support in advancing community-based monitoring of freshwater ecosystems in Canada.

Elevating Community-Based Water Monitoring in Canada Resource Package:

Read the LLC blog about the Roundtable here.

Living Lakes Canada team heading to Spain

On May 7-9, 2019 in Valencia, Spain, the global Living Lakes Network will mark its 20th anniversary with the 15th International Living Lakes Conference. The conference, titled the World Congress for Wetland and Lake Restoration, will be based on the theme “Living Lakes – Business and NGO Partnerships for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation”.

Five of Living Lakes Canada’s team members will be attending the conference – highlights will include visiting local wetland restoration sites and connecting with Living Lakes International partners to share best community-based water stewardship practices. Stay tuned for photos and stories from the team’s experience.

VISIT THE EVENT WEBSITE HERE

The Living Lakes Network is a permanent initiative created by Global Nature Fund in 1998. The network – coordinated by GNF – is steadily growing. Currently there are 111 member lakes and wetlands represented by about 140 organizations from over 50 countries. Around one third of the network members are very active and engaged in activities and projects. One third is occasionally active from time to time and one third is rather passive. The network members are highly diverse, from small grass-root NGOs to larger and powerful institutions. In some organizations, water ecosystems are a clear central focus, in some others it is only part of a broader working portfolio. Living Lakes has a very practical orientation and the exchange of experience and the realization of concrete projects are in the focus of the members. The Living Lakes Conferences have always been very important tool to keep the contact between the partners and discuss create new activities. Important benefits from a partner’s perspective are joint projects and (political) support in local and global lake preservation.

The Living Lakes Network has tackled many challenges, grown together and developed a mutual trust over the years. The 20th anniversary of the network is a reason to celebrate the success story of Living Lakes, to pass in review and forging out plans for the future.

Executive Director interview in Water Canada Magazine

The recipient of two 2017 Water’s Next Awards – Water Steward of the Year and Non-Government Organization Winner – Living Lakes Canada Kat Hartwig was recently interviewed by Water Canada Magazine about her work as one of Canada’s top water stewards and this interview appears in the March/April 2019 issue of the magazine, which is available both online and in print.

To read an excerpt of Kat’s Water Steward feature, visit: https://www.watercanada.net/feature/water-steward/

To access the full interview as a PDF, go to:

https://livinglakescanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/WC105_MarApr2019_28-30.pdf

INTRO: 

Kat Hartwig brings her passion for environmental protection to her role as the executive director of Living Lakes Canada, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting, restoring, and rehabilitating water bodies and watersheds.

Under Hartwig’s leadership, the organization has been working on a number of projects and initiatives to help individuals understand the impacts of climate change.

 

Groundwater data now available on the B.C. Real-time Water Data Tool

Groundwater level data that are collected as part of the Living Lakes Canada Groundwater Monitoring Program are now available on the “Real-time Water Data” tool. Living Lakes Canada collects hourly groundwater data, which are stored in data loggers and downloaded approximately two to four times per year. The data are then uploaded to the Real-time Water Data tool where they can be accessed by the public.

The Real-time Water Data Tool is managed by the Provincial Government. They now have information and a streamlined process for data partners to share their continuous (time series) water related data. Their goal is to capture automated groundwater, water quality, hydrometric and snow data, and make it available as a shared resource through the Real-time Water Data tool and the Data Catalogue under Open Government Licence.

If you have data you would like to share check out the new Data Submission Webpage.

For questions or comments on the Real-time Water Data tool,  submit your queries to Aquarius@gov.bc.ca and for the LLC Groundwater Monitoring Program queries can be submitted to carol@livinglakescanada.ca.

Learn more about the Groundwater Monitoring Program here.

 

New partnership to revolutionize freshwater monitoring

Living Lakes Canada partners to deliver a three-year project bringing environmental DNA technology to communities across Canada –  see below for a recording of the live announcement.

GUELPH, Feb. 4, 2019 – The power of environmental DNA technology is being extended to community groups across the country to allow for faster creation of more robust freshwater health data, The University of Guelph recieved a $2.6 million grant from Genome Canada. They will be partnering with Living Lakes Canada, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to deliver this project.

“We are very excited to be testing this new DNA technology on the ground with and for community groups who have the most to gain in understanding stream health through the sequencing of DNA for biodiversity purposes. This technology will be a gamechanger and is very timely given the urgent need to understand the health of our respective watersheds in Canada,” said Living Lakes Canada executive director Kat Hartwig.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is a combination of DNA identification and automated DNA sequencing to generate biodiversity data for freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates, the small animals that live at the bottom of streams and rivers. Changes in the make-up of these invertebrate communities can be excellent indicators of pollution and other environmental stressors.

Compared to current monitoring methods, which can be slow and costly, eDNA metabarcoding technology has the potential to produce biodiversity data more quickly, more affordably and at a higher resolution. The results of DNA-based biomonitoring will support better environmental assessment, planning and regulatory decisions – which is essential as population growth, agricultural activity, resource development and climate change all put increasing pressure on Canada’s freshwater ecosystems.

“Our Watershed Reports found a shocking data gap with respect to freshwater health, despite the heroic efforts of community groups, staff and volunteers dedicated to safeguarding this essential public resource. This commitment brings community-based monitoring into the 21st century. Considering the increasing stress caused by climate change and the cumulative effects of other human activities, not to mention major developments on the horizon, the timing couldn’t be more perfect,” said Elizabeth Hendriks, vice-president of freshwater conservation at WWF-Canada.

While many community groups already use biomonitoring to understand and manage the impacts of resource projects such as mines, hydro dams and energy projects, access to new genomics-based techniques for assessing watershed health will broaden the reach and impact of existing community-based monitoring programs, ultimately leading to better and faster data for informed decision-making.

“This project is a stepping stone in the application environmental DNA metabarcoding for large-scale assessment of watershed health. Our lab has pioneered the use of advanced DNA technologies for biodiversity analysis for over a decade and we are very pleased in joining forces WWF Canada, LLC and ECCC and various other stakeholders and citizen scientists in using this approach for our valuable watersheds,” said Academic Project Lead Mehrdad Hajibabaei, Associate Professor at the University of Guelph.

Funding for this project, called STREAM DNA (Sequencing the River for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring) is provided by Genome Canada, WWF-Canada and ECCC.

Click below to watch a recording of the live announcement (beginning at 19:46 and ending at 25:02).

About World Wildlife Fund Canada

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

About Living Lakes Canada

Living Lakes Canada bridges the gap between science and action to foster citizen-based water stewardship. Our mandate is to help Canadians understand the intimate connections between water quantity, water quality, land-use, climate change, biodiversity, and healthy human communities by building a water stewardship ethic that all Canadians can be proud of.

About Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada has a mandate for research, monitoring and enforcement related to freshwater in Canada. The Department maintains the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network, which is a multi-partner program to measure freshwater ecosystem health with standardized methods, database tools and training.

Spreading awareness: World Wetlands Day 2019

Healthy wetlands play a crucial role for life on Earth.  

Besides providing a variety of ecological services including trapping floodwaters, recharging groundwater supplies, and removing pollution, wetlands contain a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species, including endangered species. Wetlands are also powerful carbon sequestering ecosystems, offering a natural solution to climate change, one of the most pressing problems facing humanity and the planet.

Yet wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, and more than a third of the world’s wetlands have been lost in just 45 years.

World Wetlands Day on February 2 is the ideal time to raise global awareness around the value of wetlands. To draw attention to how wetlands can help fight climate change, the theme of World Wetlands Day 2019 is “Wetlands and Climate Change”, a theme that will carry through to the World Congress on Wetlands and Lake Restoration taking place May 7-9 in Spain, when a global discussion on Business and NGO Partnerships for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation will occur.

“The Living Lakes Canada team will be going to Valencia, Spain to celebrate Living Lakes International’s 20th anniversary as well as take part in the World Congress on Wetland and Lake Restoration,” said Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Kat Hartwig, “and we are being supported by Kicking Horse Coffee to attend. Kicking Horse Coffee also wants to help support stewardship for the RAMSAR-designated internationally significant Columbia Wetlands, located in the East Kootenay’s Columbia Valley, which is home to the company’s headquarters.”

Living Lakes International is a global network of over 120 non-government organizations that share the mission to enhance the protection, restoration and rehabilitation of lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds throughout the world.

The program for the World Congress for Wetland and Lake Restoration can be viewed here.

World Wetlands Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971. To learn more, visit www.worldwetlandsday.org.