About the Credit Valley Watershed and Well-Being Browser

The Credit Valley Watershed and Well-Being Browser is a joint project undertaken by researchers at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Why: The importance of ecosystem services to human well-being, and of management of water and other watershed resources in maintaining such services, is not commonly understood by the general public, and not well-enough articulated by environmental management and governance organizations.  Beneficiaries of such services are often unaware of the nature of their dependence upon supporting ecosystems. This is particularly true in urbanized watersheds, to the point where researchers discuss “nature deficit disorder” as an aspect of this disconnection. Watershed management organizations are aware of such benefits to watershed residents, but they very rarely track and report measures of human well-being to demonstrate the efficacy of their work.

What: This project addresses both sides of this issue by (1) identifying indicators that link human well-being with ecosystem services, and (2) developing an internet-based tool to communicate these indicators for the Credit River Watershed in southern Ontario. Developing such indicators and corresponding communication tools  for people living in the watershed will help to create awareness about key factors affecting their health and well-being. Further work in this project will help to enhance community governance by encouraging public engagement in environmental stewardship, and by providing tools to support watershed management that produces co-bentifits - improving both ecosystem and human health .

Who: The principle researchers on this project are Dr. Martin Bunch and Dr. Karen Morisson (Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University) and Mike Puddister, and Tatiana Koveshnikova (Restoration and Stewardship, Credit Valley Conservation).  Shuilin (Joseph) Zhao, (Spatial, Environment and Action Research (SpEAR) Lab, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University) is the programmer for the project.  Graduate students at the Faculty of Environmental Studies have also made important contributions.  They include: Alexandra Belaskie, Julie Mallette, Iftekhar Ahmed, Mitch Harrow, Alvaro Palazuelos, Elizabeth Paudel, Connor Allaby, Aleksandra Lepiarski, and Patrick Amaral).

This work was funded by: a subgrant from the SSHRC Partnership grant "The Water, Economics, Policy and Governance Network" led by Dr. Steven Renzetti (Brock University) and the Canadian Water Network, and by a Grant from the Metcalf Foundation.

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The Credit River
The Credit River in southern Ontario, Canada.