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Implementing an Ecosystem Services Approach in Alberta

Posted October 10, 2017 by LSC

Land Stewardship Centre is a partner in the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network which is a multidisciplinary group of experts working to build the knowledge required to assist with the implementation of an ecosystem services (ES) approach in Alberta.

What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystem services (also referred to as “ES”) are the benefits that humans receive from nature including provisioning (e.g. food, fuel, fibre, fresh water), regulating (e.g. air quality, climate regulation, erosion control, water quality), cultural (e.g. spiritual enrichment, recreation, aesthetic experiences) and supporting services (e.g. production of oxygen, soil formation).

Why are we looking into this?

Over the past several years many organizations, various levels of government, academia and industry have been exploring ways to integrate ES into planning and decision-making on working landscapes in Alberta. An important element of this approach is to identify current and future information needs. To meet these needs, solutions need to be developed that are practical, science-based, easy to understand and communicate.

How can we move an ES-approach forward?

In direct response to this need, LSC lead a series of sector-based workshops and outreach sessions across Alberta in an effort to help support the development of a recognized, comprehensive ES approach that can be adopted by governments, resource-based industries, landowners and land managers, and conservation organizations.

Summary reports for individual sector workshops and a final report for the workshop series are available for download here:

Stewardship Showcase - September 2017

Posted September 19, 2017 by LSC

Since 2006, the Watershed Stewardship Grant (WSG) Program, made possible with funding from Alberta Environment and Parks, has provided grants to the province’s stewardship community to support their efforts. Meet a recipient of the 2017 WSG grant, Bighill Creek Preservation Society, and learn what they are doing to protect their watershed and enhance water quality in Southern Alberta.

Bighill Creek Preservation Society

From its sandstone cliffs to its oxbow wetlands, the Bighill Creek Watershed, which stretches for several miles north and east from the town of Cochrane, is a gem of ecological quality and diversity. Recent encroaching population pressure and local industrial activity have placed greater strains on the watershed. A strong desire by the community to protect the watershed, and its significant local and regional ecological, historical and recreational assets, led to the formation of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society in 2015.

“Our local watershed and creek are a significant legacy,” explains Gerry Bietz, President of the Bighill Creek Preservation Society. “Without public recognition and broad based support for its protection, the value of this special area will be eroded and potentially destroyed by peripheral development.”

Other creeks in the surrounding areas (Jumpingpound Creek, Horse Creek and Nose Creek) have already been assessed. But there was no data or assessment done for Bighill Creek. This gap in information spurred the Society to undertake their first project, and in 2017 the group received a Watershed Stewardship Grant to complete a baseline water quality study for Bighill Creek.

It is a significant project and the Society has been working with landowners, Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre, Cows and Fish, Trout Unlimited, Cochrane Environmental Action Committee, Cochrane Foundation and the Bow River Basin Council to complete the water quality assessment. “It is great to work with all these groups together on a common goal,” shares Lyse Carignan, Treasurer for the Society. “It really increases the impact and efficiency of the project.”

As they continue their work on this project, slated to be finished next summer, the Society has learned some important things along the way. “Without funding, we could not do the work we do,” Lyse adds. “Hiring a professional biologist, performing the lab analysis – all of this takes money to make it a reality.”

The Society is encouraged by the funding they have been able to obtain from Land Stewardship Centre and other partners, and see it as a big first step towards other exciting things they have planned for the future, such as a fish habitat study and riparian zone assessment for the creek. “We may be a fairly new group, but we are determined and resourceful, and committed to the long term preservation of the natural and historic attributes of the Bighill Creek Watershed,” Gerry proudly states.

Learn more about Bighill Creek Preservation Society

About the WSG

Since 2006, 127 grassroots watershed stewardship groups have received more than $1,700,000 to develop and implement nearly 300 projects in communities across Alberta.

Do you have a project in mind that can make difference in your local watershed? Learn more about the WSG program and subscribe to our Grassroots News for grant opening and closing dates.

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