Brock prof to provide nature-based solutions for interprovincial partnership

Liette Vasseur hasn’t let a global pandemic slow her research down.

As Professor of Biology in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Co-editor in Chief of the journal Botany, UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability and President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, her research interests are wide and tackle several significant and interconnected issues affecting the globe.

A new Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Research (MEOPAR) and Réseau Québec Maritime (RQM) joint proposal has recently been approved, allowing Vasseur and other researchers (including those from the Institut national de recherche scientifique, Université de Montréal and University of Ottawa) to begin an interprovincial and multidisciplinary project entitled ‘INtercomparison of scalE and DImensionality of predictioN tools for multi-risk assessment: erosion, coastal floodINg, icE jamming (INEDINE).’

“The partnership between MEOPAR and RQM comes from the necessity of increasing the collaborations and the promotion of multidisciplinary actions across our geographical, institutional and cultural frontiers,” says RQM’s Director, Dany Dumont. “It will enable us to develop and grow our relationship with each other and our field of study.”

Vasseur’s work focuses on the Baie-Saint-Paul, a city in Québec that rests along the northern shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

“The area we are studying is a highly touristic small town that is sensitive to hazards such as strong tides and ice jams, as well as sea level rise due to climate change,” she said. “Preventing or minimizing environmental disaster in the area through a nature-based solution that uses ecosystem-based adaptation is something of interest for our research.”

Tourist towns face severe economic loss if the main reason visitors travel to the area is harmed through climate change. Vasseur believes that nature-based solutions, which are inspired and supported by nature, are viable alternatives to building construction style solutions like concrete walls.

In some cases, Vasseur says, “we can use vegetation to support and protect areas,” as well as “manage the ecosystem to adapt to new environmental pressures and thrive.”

The research aims to avoid a quick fix for a problem and develop a more sustainable environment that can support the community and maintain the natural beauty of the area.

“Environmental sustainability through nature-based solutions is an excellent example of the forward-thinking research that our professors are known for,” said Faculty of Mathematic and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed. “Vasseur has shown great dedication to sustainability through her many projects. The Faculty is proud to see her work influencing the scientific community.”

Along with her research, Vasseur also helps develop policy changes to support sustainability.

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