Twenty-Five Years of Tracking the Health of the Credit River Watershed

A person looking up through binoculars while standing in a forest of tall trees.

A Major Milestone for Credit Valley Conservation

This year marks a major milestone for Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP) turns 25! Since 1999, we’ve been tracking conditions and trends across ecosystems in the watershed. We monitor the health of forests, wetlands, streams and groundwater. Each of these systems provides life-supporting benefits like clean air and drinking water, flood protection and wildlife habitat. We also monitor climate and landscape, which shape the watershed’s ecosystems.

A group of people wearing waders and holding fishing nets underwater, while standing in a shallow river.
IWMP staff and volunteers monitoring fish communities through electrofishing.

We Measure Ecosystem Health

Through IWMP, we study a range of indicators of ecosystem health. Some indicators are non-living, like groundwater quality or stream temperature, while others are living indicators, like forest plant communities and stream fish communities. Over the years, we’ve documented:

  • 430 wetland plant species
  • 10 frog and toad species
  • 285 forest plant species
  • 137 forest bird species
  • 64 fish species
  • 140 families of aquatic invertebrates (insects and other small creatures living in streams).

A person wearing waders, holding a fishing net underwater, while standing in a shallow river.
IWMP staff collecting aquatic invertebrates.

Over the past 25 years, our dedicated staff have worked hard to build a comprehensive and powerful data set. We work in partnership with agencies like the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and Environment and Climate Change Canada to accomplish some of our work.

Importance of Long-Term Monitoring

A person holding a notebook, standing in a field with tall green plants.
IWMP staff surveying wetland plant communities.

Long-term monitoring is an important piece in protecting and restoring the watershed’s natural resources. The information we collect  helps CVC and our partners decide where to focus conservation efforts.

With the many pressures facing the watershed, like climate change, land use change and invasive species, long-term monitoring lets us understand how ecosystems are responding. Though we have 25 years of high-quality data on the health of our ecosystems, we’re not stopping now!

Learn about some of the top stories from long-term monitoring in the Credit River Watershed in the IWMP StoryMap Collection. For more details, see the IWMP Summary of Conditions and Trends in the Credit River Watershed.

Access ecological monitoring data through CVC’s open data page.

By: Adrienne Ockenden, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring.

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