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A framework for assessing cumulative effects in watersheds: An introduction to Canadian case studies



From 2008 to 2013, a series of studies supported by the Canadian Water Network were conducted in Canadian watersheds in an effort to improve methods to assess cumulative effects. These studies fit under a common framework for watershed cumulative effects assessment (CEA). This article presents an introduction to the Special Series on Watershed CEA in IEAM including the framework and its impetus, a brief introduction to each of the articles in the series, challenges, and a path forward. The framework includes a regional water monitoring program that produces 3 core outputs: an accumulated state assessment, stressor–response relationships, and development of predictive cumulative effects scenario models. The framework considers core values, indicators, thresholds, and use of consistent terminology. It emphasizes that CEA requires 2 components, accumulated state quantification and predictive scenario forecasting. It recognizes both of these components must be supported by a regional, multiscale monitoring program. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013;9:363–369. © 2013 SETAC