Just as our fresh water flows across borders, our work stretches across nation and sectors.
IISD can influence how we manage fresh water like no other think tank on earth, because we create scientific understanding of fresh water at our very own freshwater science facility, which then informs the policy recommendations developed by our team of policy analysts.
In other words, we truly bridge science and policy.
First the science.
IISD Experimental Lakes Area is the world’s freshwater laboratory.
A series of 58 lakes and their watersheds in northwestern Ontario, Canada, IISD-ELA is the only place in the world where scientists can experiment on and manipulate real lakes to build a more accurate and complete picture of what human activity is doing to freshwater lakes. The findings from its over 50 years of ground-breaking research have rewritten environmental policy around the world—from mitigating algal blooms to reducing how much mercury gets into our waterways—and aim to keep fresh water clean around the world for generations to come.
Then comes the policy.
We then take those scientific findings, and develop policy and programming solutions for governments, civil society, and industry that protect and enhance the natural environment, keep our fresh water clean, while also improving socioeconomic well-being.
We conduct economic analyses and hydrologic assessments so that governments best understand all the options before making final decisions. And we support the management of watersheds across national boundaries, bringing all the relevant sectors and stakeholders to the table.
IISD Experimental Lakes Area
We are the world’s freshwater laboratory—the only place in the world where scientists can manipulate real lakes to understand what human activity does to fresh water.
Speaking Each Other’s Language
When it comes to communicating the research findings of the world's freshwater laboratory, we need to speak to communities in their own languages. Literally.
Scientists from Two Continents Working Together to Improve the Health of the African Great Lakes
World-class scientists and researchers from across North America and Africa are putting their heads together to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the African Great Lakes today.
Floating Treatment Wetlands: Keeping our fresh water clean and healthy
This short, engaging storybook takes you through what Floating Treatment Wetlands are, and how they could really help us keep bodies of fresh water clean and healthy.
How to Protect Fresh Water from Oil Spills
This episode looks at what freshwater scientists are trying to accomplish by spilling oil into a remote lake and the unusual solution they've found to help clean up future oil spills.
Is It Raining Plastic?
We need more research to understand the effects of microplastics on our fresh water—and find solutions. That's where our team of experts come in.
Our work in the news
‘Guerrilla ecologist’ David Schindler was a powerful defender of lakes and streams - Globe and Mail
"In 1973, Dr. Schindler and his team took a shower-curtain-like membrane and stretched it across a narrowing in Lake 226, which was shaped like an hourglass."
Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora gets $180K in federal funds for planned climate centre - CBC
"The Experimental Lakes Area east of Kenora, Ont., has received $180,000 in federal funding to help in the construction of the Centre for Climate and Lake Learning."
Why UN World Data Forum matters to Canada - The Hill Times
"Thanks to the power of artificial intelligence, data also now allow us to 'model' better than ever—providing us with detailed and accurate blueprints of where, say, Canada’s fresh water is headed, set against the backdrops of climate change and ever-increasing pollution."
Silver particles in consumer goods found to harm fish in Ontario lake study - The Globe and Mail
"Microscopic silver particles that are added as an antimicrobial agent to athletic clothing, condoms and yoga mats, among many other products, have been shown to harm fish and freshwater ecosystems when released in quantities that are similar to what is thought to be emerging from wastewater plants across Canada."
Food Web Biologist
Field Sampling Technician, IISD-ELA
Deputy Director, IISD-ELA
Policy Advisor – Data and Technology
Research Chemist, IISD-ELA
Fisheries Research Biologist, IISD-ELA
Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Senior Biologist, IISD-ELA
Senior Director, Fresh Water & Executive Director, IISD-ELA
Head Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Senior Research Scientist, IISD-ELA
Research Fellow, IISD-ELA
Director, Water Management
Biologist - Field Coordinator, IISD-ELA
Biologist – Ecotoxicology, IISD-ELA
‘We really need to understand this’ ELA to study effects of anti-depressants on fish
Products that residents use each day like plastic products and anti-depressants may be making their way into local waterways, something researchers with the IISD Experimental Lakes Area will be studying this summer.
Researchers study antidepressants and plastics in NW Ontario lakes
KENORA, Ont. — Scientists working in the IISD Experimental Lakes Area want to know how microplastics and antidepressants are affecting aquatic life.
New Research at IISD Experimental Lakes Area This Summer
IISD Experimental Lakes Area is carefully and safely opening its doors to new research and a slightly larger research team this summer.
Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora gets $180K in federal funds for planned climate centre
FedNor funding will be used to help get the Centre for Climate and Lake Learning in Ontario shovel ready.
Water policy plan flows to province
Earlier this week, a report by an expert advisory council on a provincial water management strategy was received by the ministers of conservation and agriculture.
What can we do about increased plastic use during the pandemic?
Environment Canada estimates we use 15 billion disposable plastic bags per year, just in Canada. These, and other plastics, break down in our lakes and make their way into fish we eat and the water we drink.
Antidepressants: What happens when they end up in our fresh water?
We explore what toll anti-depressants may take on the environment, and what we are doing to learn more.
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