Research Context

Over the last century, the Canadian Prairies has undergone unprecedented environmental change. Owing to the regional importance of agriculture, it is arguably one of the most managed landscapes in Canada. Moreover, the Prairie climate is one characterized by extremes - experiencing periods of too much or too little water. Having (or not having) water at the "right" time is also important for the sustainability of communities and agricultural industry within the Prairie Region.

These present serious challenges for water and land management policies and practices that aim to optimize water availability, water quality, biodiversity, topsoil health, and economic value of these resources, whilst incorporating multiple ways of knowing and managing ecosystems. A spectrum of factors, including those social and cultural in nature, influence management decisions pertaining to water allocation and protection.

Future environmental change, such as those resulting from climate change or land use, will likely enhance these challenges, which can be difficult to predict and shrouded in uncertainty. To ensure better resilience for communities on the Prairies, decisions made now should be informed by those anticipated future conditions. As such, there is much to consider when designing solutions that meet short-term needs without compromising long-term sustainability in a diverse, changing landscape.