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The Northern River Basins Study: context and design

Abstract

Large river ecosystems worldwide are under increasing pressuresfrom environmentally degrading processes related to population increase,land use changes, climate change and the release of chemical substancesinto the environment. The large spatial scale and a lack of empiricaland theoretical understanding of the systems complicate environmentalassessment in these systems. Recently, the Northern River Basins Study(NRBS) undertook a multi-disciplinary approach to assess environmentaland socio-economic impacts of development in three large river basins,the Peace, Athabasca and Slave river basins in northern Canada. Thispaper provides the background and context for the NRBS and describes therationale used in developing an assessment framework for the Study. Anindependent science advisory committee comprised of scientific expertsfrom academia, First Nations and government oversaw quality assurance interms of science planning, implementation and reporting. All technicalstudies were subject to both internal and external peer review prior toapproval by a multi-stakeholder Study Board. The NRBS produced over 150technical and 12 synthesis reports that detailed these findings andprovided scientific recommendations. The Study Board used thisinformation to prepare a final report and recommendations. The NRBSprovides a clear example of a participatory, stakeholder approach thatwas successfully implemented in the design and management of anintegrated watershed environmental assessment program.

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Correspondence to William D. Gummer.

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Gummer, W.D., Cash, K.J., Wrona, F.J. et al. The Northern River Basins Study: context and design. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery 8, 7–16 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011431503940

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011431503940

  • Athabasca River
  • environmental assessment
  • Peace River
  • Slave River
  • stakeholder
  • traditional knowledge
  • watershed management