What is a Rivershed?

What is a Rivershed?

Rivershed Model

A rivershed is a distinct land area whose border is geographically defined by high points of elevation. Groundwater and surface runoff within a rivershed flow toward a common destination through a system of streams, lakes, bogs and and other watercourses.

Riversheds are commonly viewed as ecosystems. As such, they contain a range of interdependent plant and animal species whose diversity is determined by climate, soils, moisture and other biophysical features and functions. Protecting rivershed ecology is essential to sustaining life within them – including human communities.

The term rivershed is gaining currency as one of the basic concepts of a sustainable society. Although synonymous with watershed, the term is more place-specific. It steers attention to a river in a particular geographical location (e.g. the Fraser River, the Lil’wat River) and all activities and phenomena related to that area. When a sense of place is organized around a river rather than a town or city, it encourages a mental shift from human settlement to the larger interconnected natural environment.