Watershed Management in the MBMF Area

Managing watersheds to ensure that water quality and quantity are protected during resource development activities requires an understanding of how natural watershed features (e.g., soils, vegetation) affect water quality, as well as how natural (fire, beaver activity) and human disturbance (agriculture, forestry) can affect water resources. A starting point for the Manitoba Model Forest was to collect baseline water quality data on a number of rivers, streams and creeks in the Model Forest area. Baseline data had never been collected on streams and creeks, and had not been collected since the late 1980s on major river systems.

Using Geographic Information System (GIS) watershed datasets, the Model Forest created a refined watershed map for use in monitoring the levels of forest management activity in the Model Forest area. Targets for watershed disturbance levels were established for allowable road density and the percent forest harvest and fire disturbance by watershed. This information is reported on in the Local Level Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management.

A subsequent analysis was conducted on the level of historical disturbance created by timber harvesting and forest fires in order to collect baseline assess if the current watershed disturbance targets were sufficient in maintaining water quality and to eventually develop a refined set of watershed planning tools.

Two projects were initiated to assess water quality in lakes, rivers and streams, based on the historical level of forest management or forest fires that had occurred in the watersheds. The first project assessed water quality parameters in 99 lakes while the second project selected 22 creeks, streams and rivers to collect water quality and hydrological data. Baseline data collection, on rivers selected from the initial suite of water bodies, is ongoing while the data that has been collected is compiled and analyzed. Once sufficient data has been collected, the MBMF will develop a set of watershed planning tools.

Reports completed within this program area are available for viewing and download in the Publication link and have been individually linked on this page as well.