Watershed Futures Initiative Research Streams
The Watershed Futures Initiative aims to fill key knowledge gaps in our understanding of cumulative effects in BC’s salmon-bearing watersheds by undertaking several interconnected projects, or Research Streams. Each Stream will use syntheses or novel analyses to fill knowledge gaps within critical linkages of the pathways by which cumulative effects impact salmon (Fig. 1, below).
Fig. 1: Cumulative effects and their management can be visualized as a pathway of effects from activities, to habitat, to salmon (grey arrows), and the feedback (white arrows) that potentially connects the state of the system to the governance of activities.
Laws → Activities
A REVIEW OF CROWN LAW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ON SALMON & SALMON HABITAT
Stream lead: Deborah Carlson (West Coast Environmental Law; WFI Advisory Panel)
West Coast Environmental Law is leading a review of Federal, Provincial and local government laws, policies, and practices to understand how these tools are used and specifically, how they manage (or fail to manage) cumulative harm from Crown-regulated human activities affecting salmon and salmon habitat across watersheds. The review will look at barriers to fish passage associated with several regulated human activities, as a case study. The analysis will help unpack the ways that Crown laws and policies lead to systemic degradation of salmon habitat, and will explore different possible remedies and also opportunities within emerging Crown law and policy tools.
Forestry → Habitat
A SYNTHESIS OF FORESTRY IMPACTS ON SALMON HABITAT
Stream lead: Sean Naman (Simon Fraser University; WFI Coordination Team)
This Stream will quantify how forestry activities impact streamflow and temperature—two key dimensions of salmon habitat—using a systematic review and quantitative synthesis of existing scientific studies. This synthesis will seek to develop generalizable quantitative relationships between forestry activities and streamflow and temperature, identify potential thresholds of impact and generalizable response trajectories to forestry variables (e.g. percentage clear cut), and identify key features (e.g., landscape attributes or regional contexts) that influence the strength (or direction) of responses. These results may help strengthen assessment methodologies for assessing the cumulative impacts of forestry on salmon.
Perceptions of Pathways of Effects
A SOCIAL SCIENCE APPROACH TO HUMAN PERCEPTIONS OF PATHWAYS OF CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ON SALMON
Stream lead: Nigel Sainsbury (Simon Fraser University; WFI Coordination Team)
This Stream will seek to identify how different people perceive the cumulative effects that impact BC’s salmon-bearing watersheds. This Stream will be co-developed in close collaboration with local experts to explore how they view the connections between human activities, climate change and outcomes for salmon. Ultimately, it is hoped that this Stream will contribute to strengthening BC watershed co-management processes and understanding how cumulative effects are conceptualized within watershed governance frameworks.
Prioritizing Threat Management
AN EXPERT ELICITATION STUDY TO PRIORITIZE THREAT MANAGEMENT ACTION FOR RECOVERY OF WILD SALMON
Project lead: Tara Martin (University of British Columbia; WFI Advisory Panel)
This Stream will use a decision analysis framework: Priority Threat Management, to synthesize empirical data on the cumulative threats to salmon and combine it with data elicited from salmon experts on the management actions required for salmon recovery, their benefit, cost and feasibility. Ultimately, this information produces a set of cost-effective priority management actions for the recovery of wild salmon. This Stream will focus on case studies in the Lower Fraser River and Central Coast, with the aim of scaling up its applications to the whole of BC, to serve as a blueprint for cost-effective wild salmon management across the Province. For more information, see the Conservation Decisions Lab’s website.
Salmon Futures Model
A CUMULATIVE EFFECTS WATERSHED-PLANNING TOOL FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA
Project lead: Salmon Watersheds Lab (Simon Fraser University)
Using information gathered in other WFI Streams, this Stream will extend Alberta’s Joe Model for impact assessment to a BC context. The result will be a watershed scenario-planning tool that integrates cumulative effects, is forward-looking, and facilitates collaborative approaches to watershed planning. The Salmon Futures Model will be applied to a focal watershed currently undergoing planning processes, to explore its utility in a collaborative planning context.