Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn
This past week on March 12th, 2020, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) ratified the stewardship plan “Nurturing environmental stewardship in the Niagara Parks: Strategic plan 2020-2030”. The ratification of the stewardship plan at the recent Commission meeting marks another accomplishment for the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a 5-year partnership between the NPC and Brock University. The co-creation of the stewardship plan by NPC and Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) began in April 2018 when the Memorandum of Understanding creating the EESI was signed. The goals and objectives in the 2020-2030 Stewardship Action Plan dovetail with the overarching NPC Strategic Plan. The stewardship action plan also incorporates operationalizing monitoring and evaluation strategies and will continue to push forward efforts for the co-creation and mobilization of knowledge.
At the commission meeting, both NPC’s Steve Barnhart, Senior Director, Parks, Environment & Culture, and the ESRC’s Dr. Ryan Plummer spoke to the ongoing success of the partnership. To date, the partnership has been invaluable for furthering quality environmental stewardship research and for closing the research to action gap. Multiple Master of Sustainability students have completed thesis research within the partnership and a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (Drs. Julia Baird, Marilyne Jollineau, Ryan Plummer) was secured to investigate approaches in monitoring and evaluating and the effectiveness of environmental stewardship initiatives in Niagara Parks. The partnership is committed to ensuring academic research is transformed into action, as demonstrated by the inaugural EESI partnership round table in Fall 2019, where Angela Mallette, a Master of Sustainability graduate, discussed her research findings with NPC staff and leadership. The partnership also seeks to broaden engagement with stewardship initiatives through continuing to enhance student learning through experiential education opportunities and increasing community participation and learning opportunities.
This commission meeting also included the signing Memorandum of Understanding between NPC, Brock University and Ontario Trails Council, demonstrating a continued commitment to innovative partnerships.