To better understand global threats to the environment through knowledge gained from whole-ecosystem, experimental, scientific research
To monitor and demonstrate the impacts of human activities on watersheds and lakes
To developappropriate environmental stewardship strategies for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of ecosystems
To educateand promote environmental protection and conservation through an integrated approach to ecosystem stewardship
The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) occupies a unique position, not only in Canada but in the world, as a dedicated research facility for ecosystem-scale experimental investigations and long-term monitoring of ecosystem processes (Anonymous 1990). Located in a sparsely inhabited region of southern Canada, the ELA is relatively unaffected by external human influences and industrial activities. As such, it serves as a natural laboratory for the study of physical, chemical and biological processes and interactions operating on an ecosystem spatial scale and a multi-year time scale.
The ELA includes 58 small lakes (1 to 84 ha) and their drainage basins, which have been set aside and are managed through a joint agreement between the Canadian and Ontario governments. Only research activities, or activities compatible with that research, are permitted within or adjacent to these watersheds. Data records from these watersheds began in 1967 and experimental studies began in 1969.
While the ELA is operated by the Central and Arctic Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) from its Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg, Canada, research at this unique facility is jointly conducted by researchers from DFO and from a variety of partner organizations.