The Muskoka Watershed Council's mission is to champion watershed health.
PRINCIPLES AND VALUES
Several core principles and values guide the work of the Muskoka Watershed Council:
Healthy Waterways and Watersheds are Essential
Waterways provide our drinking water, irrigate our gardens and farms, sustain our plants and animals, moderate our climate and generate our electricity. They are a vital part of our heritage, having served as the "roadways" that opened up Muskoka. They are an essential element of the scenic beauty that attracts our visitors, provide the foundation for our thriving tourism industry, and underlie much of our recreation. Ensuring the quality of waterways requires ensuring the health of the watersheds through which they flow.
Watersheds generally face increasing threats from a wide range of factors, and Muskoka's watersheds are no exception. Growth and ever-increasing population bring with them increased levels of contaminants entering our surface and ground waters, and our soils. Decreasing shoreline vegetation and reduced wetlands limit nature's restorative capacity, while increasing air pollution and changing weather patterns add additional stress.
Scientific Knowledge And Technical Data Are Key To Successful Persuasion
Although environmental science is complex and new knowledge and understandings continue to be identified, its use can be vital in persuading individuals and organizations to take more responsible approaches toward the long-term sustainability of watersheds. To the greatest extent possible, the assessment and monitoring of environmental health and the identification of best practices should be based on proven scientific knowledge and sound technical data.
Approaches To Watershed Health Must Be Integrated And Comprehensive
Healthy forests, clean air and water, uncontaminated soils, and diverse plant and animal life are all linked and interdependent. The quality of our surface water is as much a measure of the air above it and the forest through which our streams and rivers run, as it is a reflection of the pollutants that enter it directly. The most effective way to ensure the quality of our water and the health of the environment is through integrated and comprehensive approaches to watershed health.
Sustainable Watersheds And Economic Viability Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Increasing Individual Responsibility Is Essential
Legislation, regulation and enforcement are the essential backbone of environmental protection, but they are not enough! Equally important is changing the behaviours of the hundreds of thousands of people who live and vacation on Muskoka's watersheds, and contribute to environmental damage because they fail to understand the impact of everyday lifestyle decisions and practices on watershed health.
Partnerships Produce Results
Traditionally, environmental protection has been viewed as a government responsibility, but government alone cannot solve all of the problems. While government must continue to provide the basic essential support services and resources to protect and promote environmental health, the effective promotion of watershed health will be best accomplished not by individuals or groups working in isolation, but rather by forming partnerships that maximize the human and financial resources required to get the job done.
Proactive and Preventative Approaches Work Best
Efforts at environmental protection have too often focused on confrontation leading to a hardening of positions. Redirecting energy toward the building of trust while enhancing individual and collective environmental understanding and stewardship offers a more productive approach.
While there will always be a place and a need for individuals and organizations to speak out strongly on specific issues and particular problems impacting on the watershed, the primary focus of the Muskoka Watershed Council will be on approaches that build community rather than disrupt it, and that offer sustainable win-win solutions.
A Strong Voice On Important Issues Is Vital
At the same time, the long-term interests of the people of Muskoka will be best served by a Watershed Council that advocates positively with a strong and independent voice on issues that are important to the health of its watersheds.
Visit their website at http://www.muskokaheritage.org/watershed/index.asp