The project is supported by RBC Tech for Nature, a multi-year commitment to preserving the natural ecosystem. The funding was secured in 2021, and soon after ALUS began engagement with the partners. This included farmers and ranchers who are by virtue, environmental stewards, as they know and care about the land and understand how it responds to human inputs. For this reason, ALUS participants are so well-positioned to deliver benefits to water quality and watershed health in the Lake Erie basin, leveraging innovative data and analytical tools like IMWEBs. IMWEBs empowers community partners to identify and prioritize natural infrastructure projects, providing enhanced accountability and transparency in ecosystem investments. Communities can evaluate the financial and environmental impact that a constructed wetland, Tallgrass prairie, or riverbank enhancement project can have on in-situ and downstream ecosystems. The ALUS Lake Erie Test Transfer Project builds on these previous field deployments and the power of the IMWEBs tool, bringing it to bear on a larger area of critical environmental concern. Specifically, the Test Transfer Project will be deployed in three Lake Erie sub watersheds: Kettle Creek, Catfish Creek and Big Otter Creek. The main objectives for this project can be summarized as:
- Supporting communities and partners with on the ground natural infrastructure projects by identifying and prioritizing key areas where benefits can be maximized.
- Continuously providing communities and partners with data based evidence on financial and environmental benefit of their practices and investments
- Establishing an enhanced data hub that organized and stored data on numerous indicators related to the Lake Erie Ecosystem and it’s health that can be processed and shared with partners.
- Improving the water quality and ecosystem health of the Lake Erie basin, the watershed, the surrounding human and non-human communities