Protecting Ts'udé Nilįné Tuyeta: What can wetlands tell us about ongoing environmental change?Online pre-recorded
The diverse and abundant wetlands of the Ts'udé Nilįné Tuyeta Indigenous Protected Area, west of Fort Good Hope, in the Sahtú Settlement Area, are highly valued natural resources, with unique cultural and ecological importance. In addition to providing ecosystem services such as filtering and storage of surface water, these wetlands also provide key wildlife habitat that supports subsistence hunting. Yet, since the 1950s, annual average air temperatures have increased twice as fast in northern North America as elsewhere in the world, and estimates of wildfire activity suggest that increases in the extent and frequency of forest fires will be greatest in northwestern Canada. Accompanying such landscape-level changes are changes at the ecosystem level, including increases in water temperature, as well as changes in biological productivity and contaminant cycling. Although the combined effects of such changes on the wetlands and the wetland-dependent wildlife of Ts'udé Nilįné Tuyeta are difficult to predict, knowledge from local Indigenous people (i.e., Traditional Knowledge) suggests that change on the land is already having a profound influence on water quality and on biota.
To co-develop and establish a water quality monitoring and research program in Fort Good Hope, Indigenous leaders in this community partnered with scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada, with a general goal of evaluating the impacts of environmental change (related to forest fires) on water quality and wetland ecosystems in Ts'udé Nilįné Tuyeta. Since 2017, this monitoring and research program has provided training and employment opportunities for Indigenous Guardians and has also developed and implemented sampling protocols for long term, community-based monitoring of freshwater ecosystems. Ongoing work with partners in Fort Good Hope and Environment and Climate Change Canada continues to focus on enhanced training for Indigenous Guardians and on monitoring water quality as it relates to changes on the land.