I've heard the comment more than once, "This is your best calendar yet, we love it!" Actually, I think so too, because water, especially moving water, is my favourite subject to paint.
You can see more information and preview the calendar pages by clicking on the image of the calendar in the upper right hand column of the blog, or simply order yours by hitting the blue button under the thumbnail image of the calendar to your right. You can see it listed with our recent books at The Library of One Thing And Another.
As usual, the image for the 13th month (January of the next year) is an essay:
Thinking about the Natural Rights of Water
We've been working together for more than 40 years to raise awareness of vulnerable species and habitats across Canada. This year's calendar focuses on the rivers & lakes with which the Canadian landscape is blessed, and where the management of the rest of the landscape is summarized. We dedicate this collection to restored & improved care of waterways in the ongoing reviews of the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act and Fisheries Act.
It's said that People find watery scenes attractive, especially when they feature scattered trees, because this was the preferred habitat of our ancestors as they were becoming human on the African Savanna. As we spread around the globe, we used and interacted with water in diverse ways, and the commercial settlement of North America led to a multitude of abuses of all classes of water bodies: draining of wetlands, channelization & damming of streams, eutrophication of lakes, and introduction of diverse pollutants and alien species into all of these. Many of these abuses are cleaned up now, due to provincial and federal legislation and the active concern of environmental groups and Conservation Authorities, so that most of these paintings are of pristine or recovered sites. Those who hope for healthy waterways must be eternally vigilant for lapses in legislation, regulation, and enforcement, and must seek to apply ecological understanding to every situation. In our Draft of an environmental bill of rights for Ontario1 we included proposed rights for water bodies, and in Principles of Riverine Health,2 Fred proposed that what we’re looking for in a healthy stream is expressions of the consequences of the flow of water.
Oligotrophy: Studies of nutrient flows find that the web of roots and hyphae in mature terrestrial communities extract nutrients so effectively that they release less of these nutrients in streamflow & ground water than falls as precipitation. One of the primary goals of conventional river conservation has been preventing organic & nutrient pollution, whether from point sources or through runoff or groundwater. The reason such nutrient loading is unnatural is that native aquatic biota is oligotrophic – adapted to water with a low concentration of nutrients.1 There’s minimal nutrient recycling in any particular reach of a river: anything that gets up into the current is lost downstream unless it’s moved back up in the body of some current-breasting creature.
Anthropogenic Toxins: Waterbodies require a rate of deposition of bioaccumulating toxins low enough that these toxins, which concentrate through the long food chains characteristic of aquatic ecosystems, do not produce malformation or illness in the fish, fish-eating Birds, or lactating human mothers.
Oxygenated Hypolimnion: Every dimictic lake should maintain an oxygenated hypolimnion between
the spring & autumnal turnovers of its water, and should be free from pollution by organic material or nutrients when these threaten the oxygenation of its deep water.
Freedom from Over-Capitalized Exploitation: The great danger to fish populations since the commercial settlement of North America has been excessive investment in exploitation, in which stocks are fished beyond their maximum sustainable yield because gear & skill is expected to continue to yield a steady return on investments.
Continuity: As long as rain falls, rivers will flow. Lakes are geologically temporary, since they either fill with sediment or drain when their sills are eroded down, but, and, at least north to the Arctic Watershed, Ontario rivers are geologically confluent with streams which have been flowing south across North America since the Paleozoic. Another aspect of healthy continuity is long-lived stream creatures with complex life histories, such as Unionid mussels, Sturgeon, Eels, Turtles, and Mudpuppies. Dams break dispersal, migrations, and flow in diverse ways. Shorelines are the most ecologically diverse habitats in the landscape, providing corridors of movement between terrestrial habitats, and trapping plant nutrients & sediment before these reach waterbodies.
Endemicity: Because they flow for so long in constrained channels, rivers and streams provide venues for evolutionary adaptation to local conditions. South of the limits of glaciation the number of species of locally endemic fish, Unionid mussels, Crayfish, and Salamanders is astonishing. In Canada we don’t have as much species-level differentiation, but we do have communities of species that resulted from post-glacial dispersal. Each local population is specially adapted to its situation, so that every twist and reach of a stream has its own community. Introduced species cause unpredictable ecological damage, displace native species, and change the character of the native biota.
In 2016 we've been starting up our Doing Natural History blog, with articles about results of our work, and the posts so far all bear on the health of waterbodies. We urge everyone to add their observations or comment on these posts - http://doingnaturalhistory.blogspot.ca/
Frederick W. Schueler
and Aleta Karstad
1 Schueler, Frederick W. 1992. Draft of an environmental bill of rights for Ontario. Sea Wind 6(2):27-32) reprinted and available in Schueler, Frederick W. & Aleta Karstad. 2013 . Landscape: Progress towards a philosophy of sustainable occupancy. Library of One Thing and Another, Bishops Mills, Ontario. paperback, 222 pages, 44 black & white illustrations, 1 map. http://pinicola.ca/books/landscape.htm - http://www.lulu.com/shop/aleta-karstad-and-frederick-w-schueler/landscape-progress-toward-a-philosophy-of-sustainable-occupancy/paperback/product-21448194.html
2 Schueler, Frederick. 2015. Principles of Riverine Health. Ontario Rivers Alliance Blog, posted by Linda Heron on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - http://www.ontarioriversalliance.ca/principles-riverine-health-frederick-schueler/