Summary of Day 1
Hélène Bouchard, Environment Canada; Patricia Robitaille, MDDEFP
The St. Lawrence is complex and dynamic, which makes it fascinating to study. In the morning, we examined the updated profile of numerous environmental indicators documented under the program. In the afternoon, we looked at ways to improve our monitoring activities and heard new information about the indicator for monitoring invasive alien species. Initially, the indicator dealt only with plants, but a wildlife component was added. One suggested improvement is to take into consideration the multiple ecosystems making up the St. Lawrence rather than studying them individually. These vast and diverse ecosystems can all be used to clarify complex results.
The democratization of access to the information and the data generated by the program was also determined to add value to the existing dissemination products. The need to interpret the results of various analysis scales was also identified, as a single analysis scale does not satisfy both those who need highly specific data and those who want more general information. Efforts must be made to address the needs of different clienteles.
It also emerged that there is a need for an ongoing linkage between research work and environmental monitoring to improve the indicators. Reporting processes and the type of indicators must reflect the latest knowledge to keep the monitoring relevant and scientifically valid.
The State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program deals only with status indicators and does not take into consideration pressure and response indicators. This choice was based on the initial fields of expertise of the program’s participants and architects.
A constraining factor of this choice is that certain existing indicators do not have thresholds that would allow for optimal interpretation. How can indicators be quantified to indicate what constitutes a satisfactory situation (number of wetlands preserved or rehabilitated, amount of shoreline available for swimming, etc.)? The scientific community has not been the sole contributor to that discussion. We can sum up this day by noting that improvements have already been made to the program and that the efforts must be continued. One way to do this relates to the project’s objective of working with new partners to address the needs expressed.