Research Paper, 8 pages (1900 words)

Ecosystem management of the laurentian great lakes

Management of the Laurent Great Lakes Common among models implemented in environmental management is the driver-pressure-state-response concept. This type of model uses Indicators to quantify and simplify changes occurring in natural systems. Changes in theenvironment, according to this model, all originate from human activity which exert pressure orstresson the system. This model attempts to solve environmental crisis by determining the human activity creating the problem and responding to change with environmental and economic policies.

In the 1 9705, Environment Canada reposed a model similar to this called the state-pressure-response model, that would be used to mediate environmental issues emerging throughout the Laurent Great Lakes ecosystems. At this time, the Great Lakes faced a number of ecosystem threats stemming from the mismanagement of fisheries, Industry and farming both in Canada and in the united States. Decision makers determined that a state- pressure-response model would more efficient in tackling the sheer number of environmental issues faced at the time, as this type of model focuses on handling specific Issues already present.

Although this model was useful In reducing pressures by enforcing stricter environmental policies, it fails to consider environmental change over time. It also fails to recognize the ecosystem as a whole as it targets each individual issue separately, giving no consideration as to how one Issue may be affecting or creating another. State-pressure-response models simply look at environmental Issues already present, there is no degree of attempting to prevent and control environmental stress.

Disregarding the possibility of environment change, and ignoring basic ecosystem concepts, creates greater issues hat will only continue to grow asclimate changeand population growth add more stress to the lakes. Since the sass’s, prevent-control models have proven to be more effective in eradicating and decreasing issues present in the environment. For this reason, although a state-pressure- response model was successful in diminishing major ecological concerns of the Laurent Great Lakes in the sass’s, a more holistic, prevent-control model Is needed to respond to present and future ecological concerns.

Current Great Lake environmental management strategies assume the lake ecosystems are static not dynamic. Over the past thirty years of management, this assumption has lead to ramifications which will only continue to worsen as climate change Is expected to pose new threats and changes to the environment. The degradation of wetlands in and around the Great Lakes is one of the ramifications of this assumption. Wetlands are the interface between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, therefore, management strategies must acknowledge environmental changes occurring In both ecosystems.

Since the 1 9705, the Increase In alarm temperature, frequency and duration of water level changes, and the increase of inconsideration (Mortars, 2004). Without standardized analytical monitoring of environmental change, issues within Great Lake wetlands with only continue to emerge (Environment Canada Report, 2005). Ignorance to dynamic ecosystem concepts have also lead to the increase of reconciling pesticides in some areas (Environment Canada Report, 2005).

This reinforces the need for monitoring environmental change rather than focusing only on issues present during the time the model is put into action. Looking into the future, the state-pressure-response model, which assumes lunatic stationary, will render inadequate as new issues emerge from climate change and arbitration. If governments continue to use a state-pressure-response model for the management of the lakes, many environmental changes will go undocumented and untreated, see Figure 1 in Appendix (Macdonald, 2009).

Numerous studies have predicted that climate change is expected to significantly decrease water levels in lakes and streams throughout North America (Michele, 2007). Decreasing water levels in the Great Lakes will increase their vulnerability to toxic contaminates (Valiant, 2008). It would be greatly beneficial for environmental management models to already begin taking into account and monitoring these changes to lessen the effects of climate change. Stricter environmental policies for industries and farming practices should already be in consideration to prevent environmental concerns in the future.

The environmental regulations that will need to be enforced will require much thought as well, such as debates over using a cap and trade or other emissions cutback strategies to lessen industry emissions if is required. The sooner these issues are dealt with, the more equipped decision makers will be at solving future crises. Other future concerns pertaining to the increase of arbitration around the lakes, primarily Lake Ontario, will be another negative environmental factor needing monitoring and acknowledgement of ecosystem change.

With arbitration it is expected that natural vegetation will be removed and replaced with impermeable concrete surfaces which allow water to flow directly into river channels, increasing sedimentation and pollutants in runoff (Foote, 1996). Sedimentation describes the process of depositing sediment or gravel. An increase in this process will have effects felt by the entire ecosystem. Domestic water supply will be contaminated and suspended sediment will have adverse effects on the growth of aquatic plant life as it decreases the light which is able to penetrate the water (UNESCO, 2011).

Fish breeding grounds and feeding zones will also be effected by an increase in suspended sediment, thus threatening fish populations. Another issue with arbitration will be the swell in atmospheric contaminates from industries, and increase in carbon dioxide from transportation use (ScienceDaily, 2008). Both environmental concerns will need to be monitored and regulated if governments are o establish efficient and effective environmental management strategies for the future.

Before arbitration and climate change present astronomical environmental issues, governments need to consider models which recognize the environment as being in a constant state of change which will encourage critical monitoring of the lakes. Another consideration is the use of a holistic model, quite unlike the model sass’s, when management decisions were being made on the Great Lakes, State of the Great Lakes Conference (SOLES) developed an indicators utilizing framework to identify major concerns of the lakes at the time, see Figure 2 in Appendix (Mitchell, 2004).

The issue with using indicators to indemnify environmental problems is that it ignores the complex relationships within the ecosystem. Earlier approaches to ecosystem management examined organisms in their ecosystem context, this was later altered to the study of an entire local system with all of its biochemistry (Mitchell, 2004). SOLES has failed to adapt the new method of ecosystem management which better explains, what and why things are happening in the ecosystem. In the early sass’s, excessive recreational boating activity and shipping on the lakes lead to the introduction of a handful of invasive species.

The most ecologically harmful being invasive species Addressed polymorph (zebra mussels), which has eliminated the native clam population in Lake Ontario, see Figure 3 in Appendix (Griffith, 1991). Following the state-pressure-response model, it was identified that ballast water discharge from transoceanic vessels was a major contributor to this problem. However, it was not until later that scientists began to notice the effect of this population on that of the native clam (Olden, 2008).

This proves that the disconnect of species to species interaction assumed in the model will only result in unpredicted, complex ecological concerns which arise at a later time (Height et al, 2006). It is clear that an essential tool for lake management, are models that describe in detail the lake ecosystem which studies both species and human interaction and species to species interaction. Typically with indicator utilizing frameworks, like that of the state-pressure- response model, environmental management efforts are enforced only when an issues present themselves as a larger problem.

In lake ecosystems, the alteration of water quality due topollutiontends to have a multiplying effect, as toxic activity accumulates over time (Ultras, 2005). Since state-pressure-response models do not exist without indicators, it is only until there is a larger scale ecosystem consequence that environmental investigation is undertaken. Once investigation begins, indemnifying the pressure or effect creating an issue is complex, and thus, additional time is taken before any action is seen to mediate the problem.

Essentially, this model waits for a problem to reach crisis portions before action is taken (Berger, 997). In some cases, environmental responses to human activity cannot be linked to specific stresses (Berger, 1997). This is especially true when targeting point and non- point source pollution. Point and non-point source are the categories which define the main types of pollution. The first being a single identifiable localized source and the second source generally unidentifiable, such as runoff from farmland.

In some areas of Lake Ontario, there are hundreds of industries and farms bordering the shoreline. Their by-products (being emissions and runoff inputs to the system are official to identify, and it becomes impossible in some cases to then identify the cause (Berger, 1997). However, the purpose of the state-pressure-response model is to recognize the source and create environmental policies to control the problem. If the source is not found, this will not happen and the problem will continue to grow. Therefore, ecosystem management models need to achieve some degree of rather than unanswered problems.

Prevent-control models are needed if current and future ecological concerns of the Great Lakes are to be handled intelligently and in a time appropriate manner. Over the past twenty years, there has been a nationwide use of prevent-control models, which operate quite differently than state-pressure-response models. Prevent-control models are aimed to reduce the amount of environmental issues that arise by diligent monitoring of systems and science inspired decision making. An excellent example of this type of model is the prevention of the spread of the southern pine beetle in western Canada.

In some areas, a direct control and preventative management practice requiring the removal of tree stands, known as a cut and remove, have been used (Billings et al, 2007). Although this type of method squires quite accurate and risky decision making, the difference between this model and the state-pressure-response model is astronomical in terms of maintaining ecosystem integrity. The application of a prevent and control model has been used around the Great Lakes area in efforts of counteracting the spread of non-native species from the Great Lakes into other watersheds (Cook and Williamsburg, 2001).

This model is known as an on-the-ground management, meaning that there is extensive monitoring at these water bodies. This type of management is dependent upon a detailed understanding of ecosystem dynamics. Scientists first determine if a site is viable for a colony to reach, and then examines it’s possible success and impact potential. Thus far, this model have been successful in controlling the spread of the hundreds of non-native species from the Great Lakes into its neighboring water systems. This model can easily be adapted into the management of the Great Lakes.

Although this type of model requires an extraordinary amount of effort from the scientific community, the expertise are already there and the environmental benefits would be well worth the effort. Human pressure on the Great Lakes is quite extensive, ND a result, lake ecosystems are unable to operate in a self-sustaining manner due to the interference or changes that exceed their capacity for self-repair (Ultras, 2005). It is essential that models in effect prevent and control environmental issues of the Great Lake to ensure irreversible damage is avoided, even if this means more funding towards monitoring and scientific expertise.

To mange present and future environmental concerns of the Great Lakes, decision makers must discard the old pressure-state-response model and replace it with a holistic, prevent-control model. These types of models encourage strategic, analytical monitoring that will solve many issues in the management of the Great Lakes faced today, with the current state-pressure-response method. Monitoring ensures the documentation of ecosystem changes which will be important in the future for determining climate change effects.

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