Benefits of Healthy Watersheds

Our natural ecosystems are made up of forests, wetlands, water sources, plants and animals, and provide  multiple goods and services that contribute to a healthy economy, environment and people. Every day, we  rely on ecosystem goods and services - they connect us to our environment.

Conservation Authorities deliver practical, cost effective programs that ensure healthy ecosystems which  enable them to generate and maintain valuable goods and services, often preventing the need for costly  technological solutions to environmental problems.   

  • Human Health: A healthy watershed provides safe drinking water, provides food, enables us to adapt to the impacts of climate change more easily by cooling the air and absorbing greenhouse gas emissions, and provides natural areas for people to keep active and recharge our batteries. 
  • Ecological Health: A healthy watershed conserves water, promotes streamflow, supports sustainable streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater sources, enables healthy soil for crops and livestock, and also provides habitat for wildlife and plants. 
  • Economic Health: A healthy watershed produces energy and supplies water for agriculture, industry and households. Forests and wetlands help to prevent or reduce costly climate change andflooding impacts, manages drought, contributes to tourism, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and mining industries. 

Some of the Benefits of Ecosystems 

  • Benefits of Wetlands: Improve water quality, regulate water flow for drought and flood management, provide wildlife habitat, provide carbon storage, contribute to climate change adaptation, provide opportunities for recreational fishing and hunting. 
  • Benefits of Forests: Improve air quality, absorb carbon emissions, filter air pollution, improve water quality and soil, provide important wildlife and bird habitat, provide sources of materials forbuilding and manufacturing, provide shade and block winds. 
  • Benefits of the Great Lakes: Provide transportation, recreation and manufacturing goods and services contributing billions of dollars to Ontario’s economy, source of drinking water for eight million people, provide raw power and cooling water for the province’s energy supply. 
  • Benefits of Green Spaces: Create attractive, ’liveable’ communities by providing relaxing, walkable and aesthetically pleasing neighbourhoods, help us to adapt to impacts of climate change, help prevent flooding and erosion, provide habitat for wildlife and birds. 

Conservation Authorities promote an integrated watershed management approach balancing human, environmental, and economic needs.

Conservation Authority Programs have become even more vital to protecting health of watersheds and people.

With nature being vital to our health, economy and security, and global warming a reality, the mandate of Conservation Authorities remains as relevant now as when it was initially formulated:

  • Safeguarding Ontario’s rivers, lakes and streams; 
  • Protecting, managing and restoring Ontario’s woodlands, wetlands and natural habitats; 
  • Developing and maintaining programs that will protect life and property from natural hazards suchas flooding and erosion; 
  • Providing opportunities for the public to enjoy, learn from and respect Ontario’s natural environment.

Examples of Conservation Authority contributions to healthy watersheds and people: 

  • Healthy natural areas are critical for preserving and building local environmental resilience helping us to adapt to climate change 
  • Conservation Areas & education programs provide healthy outdoor activities and help people to learn about the importance of environment to their own health 
  • Watershed management programs provide tangible and measurable social, economic and environmental benefits