Two Ways of Knowing
Adequate long-term monitoring is critical to understanding the state and health of the Peace-Athabasca Delta ecosystem and in supporting responsible stewardship and sound decision-making.
Aboriginal people have been monitoring the delta’s ecosystem for centuries. Traditional knowledge of the area includes an intimate and detailed knowledge of the plants, animals and natural phenomena associated with this ecosystem. Observations of changes to the water, air, land and wildlife have been made by the First Nations and Métis people who live in the delta; these observations can be the first warnings of change.
Western science monitoring systematically measures key environmental indicators over time. This can:
- help investigate observations made by community members of changes in the environment;
- assist in the assessment of ecosystem health;
- aid in the identification of specific stressors; and
- help provide warning of environmental damage or change.
Western science monitoring can be used to assess compliance with legal requirements, standards or obligations and commitments to stakeholders. It is also used to verify the effectiveness of measures taken for prevention, mitigation, or remediation of environmental damage.
Two types of monitoring can be considered:
- Long-term monitoring provides information on the current status and trend over time of some aspect of the environment. An example would be water quality monitoring.
- Short-term monitoring and research activities are designed to:
- address specific questions;
- assess and report on a specific issue or threat; and/or
- allow determination of cause and effect relationships.
For more information on research and monitoring initiatives in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, please contact:
Stuart Macmillan, Chairperson
Peace-Athabasca Delta Ecological Monitoring Program
Wood Buffalo National Park
Fort Smith, NT X0E 0P0