Human well-being, ecosystem services and watershed management in the Credit River Valley: Web-distributed mechanisms and indicators for communication and awareness

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. This project will address both sides of this issue by identifying indicators of human well-being associated with ecosystem services, including economic valuations, developing an internet-based tool to communicate these indicators, and assessing the efficacy of this tool in an application to the Credit River Watershed, southern Ontario. Developing indicators and the corresponding communication tools will allow reporting to the communities to create awareness about key factors affecting their health and well-being. Concurrently, this project will contribute to enhancing community governance by encouraging engagement in stewardship activities.

S. Mitchell Harrow
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Martin Bunch