Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices

Chapter 1: Understanding Watershed-Scale Restoration

J. E. Williams, C. A. Wood, and M. P. Dombeck

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569049.ch1

Aquarter of a century ago, Professor Noel Hynes of the University of Waterloo in Ontario was among the first to describe how links between the soil and vegetation in a watershed combine with local climate to produce the physical structure and biological productivity of streams (Hynes 1975). Since Hynes’s synthesis, the synergy between a river and its watershed has been described in various ways. At first, the river–watershed relation was viewed along the longitudinal gradient of a river from its headwaters to the ocean (called the river continuum concept). More recently, the connectivity of rivers has been viewed from upstream to downstream, from upslope to downslope, and from surface flows to subsurface (hyporheic) flows (Minshall et al. 1985; Naiman 1992a).

Our understanding of the dynamic nature of riverine ecosystems has evolved, so our ability to manage them should evolve as well. Successful management of aquatic and riparian ecosystems is predicated upon sound management of their watersheds. Whether we are dealing with a small headwater stream and its modest catchment (first order), or a large river system and its extensive basin (fourth or fifth order), society can derive the full benefit of healthy watersheds only if we understand how these systems function and how our activities are disrupting them.