Made in Muskoka, for Muskoka, and respected everywhere.
Update – May 2016:
What’s in a name? Well, many things, perhaps. In this case, permanence is not yet one. While we are still full steam ahead on our plans to build a world-class research facility in Muskoka, we have tentatively chosen the working name of, “Muskoka Limnology Institute” rather than the original Muskoka Environmental Research Complex. Of course, if a really great offer to name the facility comes our way, this, too, could change!
For Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and Dr. Norman Yan’s "not-so-crazy ideas", this is our major long-term goal in Muskoka. To develop, build, operate, and support a home-grown freshwater environment research facility in Muskoka with a focus on Muskoka’s freshwater environmental challenges. We call it the Muskoka Limnology Institute or the "MLI". Its purpose is in finding sustainable solutions while also being a relevant and contributing member of the global freshwater environmental research community.
As we’ve said in our Philosophy and Roadmap, besides being a magnificent natural environment, Muskoka is also a vulnerable place; particularly vulnerable to environment impacts such as climate change. In that vulnerability lays opportunity. That vulnerability also requires, and deserves, our focused attention.
Government-sponsored environmental research and environmental research emanating from various universities in Ontario and across Canada has tremendous value. We believe even greater, more consistent and complimentary value can accrue by establishing an independent, not-for-profit freshwater research facility in Muskoka with specific focus on Muskoka’s lakes, rivers, and watersheds. The facility would develop and execute it’s own research programs and would form partnerships with universities, government and like-minded environmental organizations where there was mutual benefit in doing so. Situating such a research facility in Muskoka is of direct and crucial long-term benefit to Muskoka’s natural environment and the economy which depends upon that environment. Furthermore, we will have increased capacity to positively influence local policy development through highly-relevant, empirical data and research results. Through knowledge mobilization, we can help to combat many environmental challenges in Canada and globally, especially those affecting freshwater lakes and watersheds throughout the world.
Location, location, location
Muskoka is an ideal location for such a facility. By virtue of Muskoka’s geographical position and the uniqueness of its watershed in terms of prevailing winds, biology, ecology, limnology, geology and hydrology, as well as some current and impending development pressures, we are supremely situated to have a very attractive mix of conditions and environmental influences which form the fundamental basis for meaningful and beneficial research unavailable or not as easily accessible anywhere else at this time.
And then there is this thing called Water
Water covers approximately 75% of the earth’s surface. Freshwater lakes and rivers, ice and snow, and groundwater hold only 2.5% of the world’s water. Overall, Canada may be considered a freshwater-rich country: on an average annual basis, Canadian rivers discharge close to 9% of the world’s renewable water supply.
The Great Lakes, where water from the Muskoka River watershed eventually arrives, makes up the largest surface area of freshwater found in one place anywhere in the world.
In other words, the Muskoka watershed represents a substantial proportion of the world’s freshwater supply. So, not only is Muskoka a precious place in terms of it’s natural environment, it is a precious place globally in terms of freshwater resources and the knowledge which may be gained from those resources.
In that substantial proportion is the opportunity to contribute our own research to help combat the environmental challenges confronting freshwater resources around the globe.
Are there additional benefits?
Yes, we believe there are. Of several others, we feel one of the most important is regional economy. Situating such a facility in Muskoka has the potential to generate local jobs and stimulate the local economy by attracting research scientists, graduate students and organizations to the facility for projects which may last several months in duration.
This is the beginning
As this is being written (February 2016), it is still early days, the beginning, really, of the considerable effort to pull this all together. And we will. Our plans are taking shape, interest is developing and support is starting to come together.
If this incredible opportunity is of interest to you, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop us a line via our contact page. We’d also be extremely thrilled if you deemed this effort important enough to you and to Muskoka, to help us make it all happen. Please consider supporting this effort by becoming a Friends of the Muskoka Watershed member or, perhaps, a Patron or Benefactor.
Muskoka will be that much better, in a sustainable way, for our work, together.