Brock researcher lends expertise to $1M sustainability project for coastal communities

A Brock researcher is contributing her expertise to help establish a research network aimed at supporting coastal communities in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Liette Vasseur

Liette Vasseur

The federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) announced yesterday it has granted $1 million over five years to a group of Canadian universities and watershed organizations to do research and pilot projects in support of integrated water resources management and community resilience. The group is the Coalition for the Sustainability of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The large consortium of research partners includes Liette Vasseur, a Biological Sciences professor at Brock. It also includes nine universities and nine community partner organizations, with more than 20 researchers based in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec.

The network is led by Steve Plante of the University of Rimouski, and by Chantal Gagnon, executive director of the Coalition for the Sustainability for the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Vasseur is a co-applicant on the funding, through SSHRC’s Canadian University Research Alliance program (CURA).

The alliance will take a holistic approach to coastal and watershed management to support an ecosystem compromised by rapid physical changes such as accelerating erosion and increased storm activity due to climate change.

“Increasing resiliency of these communities is crucial with greater impacts due to climate change,” Vasseur said. “It is time to discuss the long-term future of our coastal communities and their involvement is a cornerstone of this project.”

She added that integrating various sciences in an applied manner is recognized as the best way to develop adaptive strategies for these communities, to give them tools they can effectively use in the future.

“This project is an exciting example of the types of collaborative research regularly undertaken by our researchers,” said Ian Brindle, Brock’s vice-president Research. “Dr. Vasseur’s extensive background in climate change and water projects in coastal communities in Eastern Canada will be a vital contribution to this network’s efforts.”

Vasseur will bring her interdisciplinary expertise to integrating the biological and physical data into the social perspective in order to help communities define paths to adaptation and resiliency.

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