The MNAI Grindstone Creek Watershed project – the first of its kind in Ontario – just passed another milestone with an implementation workshop! This is a comprehensive, collaborative, natural assets management project that is being carried out at the watershed scale (see mnai.ca/grindstone-creek-project for project background and previous work).
Most of the project partners (which are Conservation Halton, City of Hamilton, Royal Botanical Gardens, Greenbelt Foundation, and City of Burlington) were able to join MNAI for the implementation workshop in July 2021 where they reviewed the work done since the last workshop and discussed potential next steps and ways to implement them.
With a much clearer understanding now of what natural assets exist in the Grindstone Creek watershed, what condition the natural assets are in and what risks they face, the project team also completed very real and pertinent models and scenarios such as what might happen to the forests and wetlands if climate changed increased the frequency and severity of flooding.
Project results and data informed some possible next steps that could include:
increasing education around the role natural assets play in the watershed and beyond
communicating and engaging with a broader range of stakeholders in the watershed
embarking on an asset management plan that integrates natural assets with engineered assets
making better use of maps and existing data to monitor natural assets
Grindstone Creek – Bloodroot
In addition to the suggested practical next steps, the project team also identified and recognized that natural assets provide a range of co-benefits, both quantitative and qualitative. Some of the quantitative benefits include:
recreation and tourism opportunities
soil retention and erosion control
climate mitigation and carbon sequestration
wildlife habitat and biodiversity
Natural assets also provide qualitative benefits that are sometimes tougher to measure but are just as important. These include physical and mental health and Indigenous values.
The project team for the Grindstone Creek Watershed project is now heading into the report-writing phase to pull all the information and data together and will produce a comprehensive report by the end of 2021 which will help inform stakeholders on how to sustainably and cost-effectively manage the watershed and its services for the long-term.