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Living Lakes Canada

Living Lakes Canada is the newest member of an international network dedicated to protection, rehabilitation, and restoration.

The world’s wetlands are our natural filtration systems, protecting our watersheds from potential contaminants and impurities. Sadly, there is actually very limited ongoing monitoring of wetlands by government agencies, and very little funding for new initiatives. Enter Living Lakes Canada, the newest member of the Living Lakes International Network, headquartered in Germany with the Global Nature Fund.

Living Lakes Canada officially launched on November 29, 2010 as a collaborative effort between British Columbia-based Wildsight and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation. The growing international network strives to conserve and protect the earth’s natural water resources through research and stewardship, and with Canada’s involvement comes a new era in worldwide collaboration.

The organization’s ongoing Lake Windermere Project is a groundbreaking demonstration of community involvement, with over 100 volunteers assisting in testing and data gathering. The project’s success was recognized by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in March 2010 when it was chosen as a best practice for community-based environmental monitoring. In November, the project was also honoured with the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia’s Land Award in recognition of leadership and innovation related to sustainable land use within the province.

Because of the Lake Windermere project’s success, the Living Lakes Network founders at the Global Nature Fund have also asked Wildsight to create a community engagement handbook to be used among its many partners.

Alex Salki is a board member of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation and is a liaison for Living Lakes Canada. He says the Living Lakes Network has realized that stewardship is strongest and most effective when community members are empowered and working together.

“Having the project operate on this level make it a growing tool for change,” he says.

The Lake Winnipeg project, aimed for completion in 2012, follows similar guidelines to the Lake Windermere project and hopes to engage the community in reclaiming the lake’s functionality despite the depletion of its shorelines and surrounding wetlands.

In addition to playing a role in creating a unified monitoring system to ensure worldwide consistency and compatibility in community water stewardship, Living Lakes Canada also hopes to increase its membership to include representatives from every watershed in the country.

“We’re looking for active, non-governmental organizations that can contribute to our network while simultaneously being supported within our framework,” says Heather Leschied, program manager of the Lake Windermere Project. Specifically, they’re looking to include members from the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as Hudson Bay, in addition to smaller drainage basins across Canada. — Jessie Davis

“The Lake Windermere project was hatched at the local level and, uniquely, the driver was not a crisis, but an understanding that managing natural resources is important.”

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