Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation Creed, I, Sass, G, Beall, F, Buttle, J, Moore, RD and Donnelly, M. 2011. Hydrological principles for conservation of water resources within a changing forested landscape. Sustainable Forest Management Network.
Organization SFMN
URL http://www.sfmn.ales.ualberta.ca/Publications/~/media/sfmn/Publications/StateofKnowledgeReports/Documents/SOK2011Water1CreedetalEn.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords This report presents a set of hydrological principles that can be used to inform forest policies and practices and be
translated into actions for sustainable forest management in Canada. These principles were developed as part of a
backcasting-from-principles approach to planning that envisions a desired future constrained a set of principles,
and then considers the policy and practical steps necessary to arrive there. Many of the concepts underlying the
hydrological principles are currently represented in some provinces and territories. However, these principles
should serve as the first step in opening a dialogue between forest hydrologists, managers and policy makers. This
will help to establish a unified framework for sustainable forest management across the country.
Principle 1. Determine hydrological system boundaries and consider the entire hydrological
system within which management actions take place.
Management Action 1A: Delineate hydrological system boundaries based on knowledge of
dominant hydrological flowpaths. Many hydrological systems will coincide with topographic
boundaries but in some places other factors control hydrological response units.
Principle 2. Conserve critical hydrological features by minimizing disturbance to areas involved
in the source, movement and storage of water.
Management Action 2A: Minimize disturbance to soils, especially within or near areas that
focus the recharge of water into subsurface pathways.
Management Action 2B: Minimize disturbance in filter areas around streams, wetlands and
lakes, and other sensitive sites (required buffer width will depend on dominant hydrological
processes in given locale to maintain water quality of receiving water bodies).
Management Action 2C: Minimize disturbance to storage areas (such as wetlands and
ephemeral saturated areas).
Principle 3. Maintain connections between hydrological features by minimizing disruptions
to water, sediment and nutrient flows.
Management Action 3A: Consider the interconnectedness and interdependence of water
pathways through watersheds when developing management plans (i.e., look beyond the forest
stand and consider where the stand occurs with respect to the watershed and water flows).
Management Action 3B: Locate roads, bridges, culverts and harvest areas to ensure surface and
subsurface hydrological connectivity is maintained and flow is neither impeded nor enhanced. Principle 4. Respect the temporal variability in hydrological processes, over short-term
(i.e., daily operations) and long-term time scales (i.e., 100 year planning horizons).
Management Action 4A: Recognize there is natural variability in hydrological processes at
multiple scales from daily to multi-decadal.
Management Action 4B: Recognize there is human induced variability in hydrological
processes of different severity (ranging from past management practices to climate change).
Management Action 4C: Recognize that the timing, frequency and magnitude of extreme
events may be changing because of the interplay between natural and anthropogenic factors
that are hard to separate.
Principle 5. Respect the spatial heterogeneity in hydrological processes, among different scales
of a watershed (e.g., stand, hillslope, catchment, basin) and among different
hydrological regions (e.g., discharge dominated versus evapotranspiration dominated).
Management Action 5A: Consider how scale influences dominance of hydrological processes
(moving from headwaters to regional basins).
Management Action 5B: Consider how geographic context including climate, bedrock
geology, surficial geology, soil type and depth, and topography influences dominance of
hydrological processes and patterns.
Principle 6. Maintain redundancy and diversity of hydrological form and function within
forested watersheds.
Management Action 6A: Consider watershed functions that might be most impacted by
future extreme events and plan to protect features that perform those functions.
Management Action 6B: Consider multiple ecosystem services when assessing “tradeoffs” in
making development choices.
Management Action 6C: Consider the interactive nature of the hydrological system with
climatic, geomorphic, ecologic and socio-economic systems.
The way forward for scientists, managers, and policy makers to implement our suggested backcasting-from-principles
approach is to:
1) Reach consensus on hydrological principles through open dialogue;
2) Embed the hydrological principles into a framework of principles, policies and practices;
3) Integrate the hydrological principles with social, economical and ecological principles; and finally
4) Develop a process for effective monitoring and adaptation of the backcasting-by-principles process.
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Province
Sub-watershed if known
Aquifer #
Project status complete
Contact Name Irena Creed
Contact Email [email protected]