Articles tagged with: research

  • Proven performance trumps cost in agriculture innovation adoption, NCO research suggests

    When Ontario farmers consider introducing new technologies into their operations, there’s a laundry list of factors in addition to cost that go into determining whether they’re a fit.

    Although the inclusion of innovation can be seen as a significant investment, cost is often outweighed by performance when results are proven and make sense for the operation in question, new research by Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) says.

    The NCO’s latest policy brief, presented during a virtual event Wednesday, Dec. 8, examines the barriers and drivers to adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector. The research combines analysis of survey data from Ontario farms with that of in-depth interviews conducted with farmers and agriculture innovation stakeholders.

    The paper was authored by Amy Lemay, NCO Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Charles Conteh, Professor of Public Policy and Management in the Department of Political Science and NCO Director; and Jeff Boggs, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and NCO Interim Director.

    The brief is the NCO’s latest agriculture innovation policy research, funded through the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

    Its findings suggest that widespread adoption of automation and robotics technologies in the agriculture sector is dependent on:

    • Technologies that provide solutions to real problems.
    • Technologies with proven and validated performance and benefits.
    • Equipment suppliers with local and reliable service, maintenance and technical support.
    • Governance frameworks for data that protect privacy and security.
    • Policies and programs that incentivize early adopters and smaller farms.

    “Our results suggest that any perceived failures on the part of farmers to adopt automation and robotics technologies are not because they’re inherently slow adopters due to their overly risk-adverse or conservative nature, rather we’re seeing that farmers are making objectively rational decisions,” Lemay says. “Farmers are showing a reluctance to adopt technologies with unproven performance or profitability from suppliers with uncertain futures who have weak connections to or understanding of the agriculture sector.”

    Lemay says the team’s research found that “for most farmers, performance was more important than cost or ease of use when they were choosing a technology.”

    But challenges for adoption arose when it came to technologies that had yet to tangibly demonstrate promised benefits, as well as those unable to provide local, reliable access to service, parts and maintenance over the long term, given that many technologies are imported from multinational manufacturers based outside of Canada.

    To address these concerns, Lemay says it may be necessary for researchers and technology solution providers to build collaborations with established, local farm equipment distributors and retailers to bring new technologies to market.

    “Our findings point to the need for reconsidering, rethinking and revisiting how adoption of agri-food innovations is supported and promoted in the province,” Conteh says. “We want to generate solutions for accelerating technology transfer and adoption. While empirically our focus is on Ontario, our findings hold implications for all of Canada.”

    The next phase of the study, which is now underway, has researchers interviewing stakeholders from Canadian ‘superclusters’ — NGen in Hamilton and Protein Industries Canada in Saskatoon — to gain a broader understanding of the drivers and barriers to the adoption of technologies, Lemay says.

    The final phase, to take place this winter, will include a series of focus groups that will bring together agri-food stakeholders from industry, government and academia to identify policy and government recommendations for supporting and promoting the adoption of automation and robotics technologies.

    Following Wednesday’s brief presentation, a panel discussion was held featuring industry stakeholders: Kathryn Carter, Tender Fruit and Grape Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Hussam Haroun, Director, Automation, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre; and Rodney Bierhuizen, Co-owner, Sunrise Greenhouses.

    The Niagara Community Observatory’s latest brief, “Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector,” is available on the NCO website.

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  • New research finds evidence of climate-driven changes to northern lakes

    Across the Old Crow Flats in the northern Yukon, lakes are telling a story of climate-driven change.

    The traditional territory of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN), the Old Crow Flats is recognized as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance thanks to its more than 8,000 thermokarst lakes (up to 15 square kilometres) and ponds. Thermokarst lakes are formed by thawed permafrost and can be prone to drainage if they expand into low-lying areas.

    Kevin Turner, an Associate Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies at the University of Washington, has studied the area since 2007, and he says that warmer temperatures, longer summers and more rain are “priming this important landscape for continued climate-driven landscape change.”

    In a new paper with Lauren A. MacDonald, who was a post-doctoral research fellow at Brock in fall 2020, as well as researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Parks Canada, Turner and his team share an analysis of water samples suggesting significant trends toward increased rainfall in the area, which could affect drainage in the shallow lakes and cause changes to soil stability along shorelines.

    The research, conducted under the direction of the Vuntut Gwitchin Government and the North Yukon Renewable Resources Council, saw sampling take place from 14 lakes in the Old Crow Flats two to three times per year from 2007 to 2019.

    Kevin Turner collects water samples for analysis from a thermokarst lake in Old Crow Flats. (Photo courtesy of Luke Gray)

    The samples produced a 13-year record that the research team has analyzed using water isotope tracers to distinguish between input sources, such as rainfall and snow melt, and also to track water losses due to evaporation.

    “There is more than meets the eye with these results, as they represent a status indicator of the increasing vulnerability of this area to drastic change,” says Turner. “For example, permafrost, which holds the landscape intact, degrades more during warmer and wetter conditions, which can lead to more shoreline slumping and rapid drainage of lakes into the river network.”

    These changes to the landscape can disrupt ecosystems, affecting plants and wildlife and interfering with traditional ways of life — a trend already recognized by the VGFN.

    “Findings complement the traditional knowledge of the VGFN, who have observed changes in climate and landscape characteristics during recent decades and have recently declared a climate emergency,” says Turner.

    Isotopic evidence of increasing water abundance and lake hydrological change in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada” was published in Environmental Research Letters in late November. Turner says that its findings demonstrate why collaboration and co-operation in research is so important.

    “This research showcases the value of innovative and collaborative long-term monitoring programs in these important and remote areas of the North where the impacts of climate change are heightened,” he says.

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  • NCO to present research on barriers to innovation adoption in Ontario’s agriculture sector

    Innovation can have a game-changing impact on those involved in the agriculture sector, but change doesn’t come easy, or without challenges.

    Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) will present its latest policy brief, Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector, during a virtual event Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    It’s the NCO’s latest agriculture innovation policy research, funded through the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

    The paper was authored by Amy Lemay, NCO Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Charles Conteh, Professor of Public Policy and Management in the Department of Political Science; and Jeff Boggs, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and NCO Interim Director.

    Their research combined analysis of survey data from Ontario farms with that of in-depth interviews conducted with farmers and agriculture innovation stakeholders.

    The findings offer deeper insights into the social, economic and institutional factors and mechanisms that influence automation and robotics technology adoption by farmers in the Niagara region and across Ontario.

    The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, as well as a panel discussion featuring:

    • Kathryn Carter, Tender Fruit and Grape Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
    • Hussam Haroun, Director, Automation, Vineland Research
    • Rodney Bierhuizen, Co-owner, Sunrise Greenhouses

    Please RSVP to cphillips3@brocku.ca and a Microsoft Teams link will be sent the day before the event.

    What: Virtual presentation of NCO’s Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector

    When: Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    Where: Microsoft Teams

    Who: Amy Lemay, NCO Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Charles Conteh, Brock University Political Science Professor and Jeff Boggs, Brock University Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and NCO Interim Director.

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  • Research award winners to share findings at upcoming event

    Research on sustainability, decolonization and child safety will be featured the upcoming annual public Faculty of Social Sciences (FOSS) Research Colloquium.

    This year’s virtual event takes place Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and will include presentations from both recipients of the 2021 FOSS Early Career Researcher of the Year Award, as well as three winners of the FOSS Student Research Award.

    • “Water resilience for a rapidly changing world” — Associate Professor Julia Baird, Geography and Tourism Studies and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
    • “Empathy and Equity for the World’s Oceans” — Assistant Professor Jessica Blythe, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre
    • “A Holistic Approach to Mapping Priority Sites for Low-Impact Development” — Jillian Booth (BSc ’20), Sustainability Science and Society
    • “Tracing the Colonial Dimensions of ‘Special Education’: History, Disability and Settler Colonialism” — Alec Moore (BA ’20), Child and Youth Studies
    • “Evaluating Video Prompting to Teach Prospective Parents and Caregivers Correct Installation of Child Passenger Safety Restraints” — Niruba Rasuratnam, Applied Disability Studies

    Baird, Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water and Water Resilience, says being recognized with the Early Career Researcher Award jointly with her colleague Jessica Blythe was a thrill.

    “It is an honour, and I think it helps raise the profile of the research being done by my lab and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) more broadly, especially with both Jessica and I receiving this award in the same year,” says Baird. “I am so appreciative to the Faculty of Social Sciences for this award.”

    Blythe agrees, saying she felt both incredibly honoured by the recognition and pleased to be named alongside Baird.

    “It is especially exciting to know that the kind of applied, interdisciplinary and solution-oriented research we do as sustainability scientists is being recognized by the Faculty,” says Blythe. “While this award recognizes individuals, the work we do isn’t possible without an incredible team of people, including faculty and staff at ESRC, collaborators, students, and partners to name a few.”

    Baird is also grateful to have worked with several partners as part of her work, which she purposely designs to have real-world impact.

    “I am fortunate to have worked with excellent, sustainability-oriented partners and collaborators in my research as a faculty member, including the Niagara Parks Commission, WWF-Canada, and the Town of Lincoln, along with many amazing academics and students,” says Baird. “Nothing I do happens in isolation and I’m so grateful to those who have mentored me and collaborated with me to reach this point.”

    Both Blythe and Baird say they look forward to sharing their work and engaging in conversation at the upcoming event. Baird is also looking forward to celebrating graduate student research at the Colloquium, including that of Master of Sustainability student Booth, whom Baird supervises.

    “My research is focused on using Nature-Based Solutions such as Low-Impact Development (LID) to build more resilient socio-ecological communities,” says Booth. “Findings will be applied to the Prudhommes Landing development located in the Town of Lincoln, but the lessons learned from this case study can be shared with other leading jurisdictions and governments looking for innovative ways to encourage sustainable development.”

    Booth used her FOSS Student Award funding to commute to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, where she was able to use the laboratory and equipment to collect and analyze soil samples collected at Prudhommes Landing throughout the summer.

    Moore, an MA student in Child and Youth Studies, will present on his research into the connection between conceptualizations of disability and the forces of settler colonialism in Canada, outlining his project to analyze the Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report.

    “Being able to contribute to a critical and emerging body of literature that discusses disability and settler colonialism is extremely rewarding, as there is a significant need for more critical work in this area,” says Moore. “It is also very rewarding to play a very small part in continuing the ongoing effort of Decolonization, particularly in regards to Disability Studies.”

    Moore used the funding from his FOSS Student Research Award to scale back on work hours and purchase research materials. He says he is excited to take part in the event next week, and credits his supervisor, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Hannah Dyer, as well as committee members Assistant Professor Chelsea Jones and Professor Richard Mitchell, with helping him get to the point of being ready to share his research plan.

    Rasuratnam of the MA in Applied Disability Studies also emphasizes the role her supervisor, Associate Professor Kimberly Zonneveld, has played not only in this research but in her academic path overall. After graduating with a degree in Life Science from McMaster, Rasuratnam completed a post-graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences at Seneca College, which then led her to the graduate programs in Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies. She started out in a coursework stream but was inspired to undertake research by Zonneveld.

    At the upcoming event, Rasuratnam will present some of this work for the first time to an audience outside of the Zonneveld lab.

    “My research entails creating a video-prompting model to help prospective and current caregivers correctly install a car seat and harness an infant,” she says. “There’s still such a high prevalence of death and injuries that occur from motor vehicle collisions that, if caregivers learn how to correctly install car seats, this risk could be reduced by 70 to 80 per cent.”

    Rasuratnam used the funding from her FOSS Student Award to complete the Child Passenger Safety Technician certification to develop her video prompting procedure. She says there are currently only six applied studies on the topic of training, so the research could have far-reaching impacts if the techniques of applied behaviour analysis are shown to improve outcomes in the area of car-seat installation.

    Dawn Zinga, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the event is an opportunity to showcase top faculty researchers while also highlighting the exciting research of graduate students.

    “The Faculty has wonderful diversity in the research that is undertaken across the various departments and programs,” says Zinga. “This event illustrates that breadth and depth.”

    The FOSS Research Colloquium is open to the public and intended for a general audience. Please register to receive a link to the Lifesize livestream.

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  • Welcoming Dr. Katie Young

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies is pleased to introduce the newest member of our Department, Dr. Katie Young. Dr. Young has joined Dr. Catherine Nash as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Beyond Opposition research project.

    Dr. Young is an arts-based ethnographer, exploring everyday experiences of space through the lens of music and media. Prior to joining the Beyond Opposition project, Dr. Young was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Limerick between 2020 and 2021. In Ireland, her research explored experiences of night space for Black-Irish and African diasporic musicians and creatives living in Cork and Galway.

    Katie’s doctoral research focussed on gendered experiences of Hindi films and film music in the home and in everyday life in Ghana. After receiving her PhD in Music and Geography in 2019, she was the 2019 African Studies Association UK Teaching Fellow at the University for Development Studies in Northern Ghana.

    Learn more about Dr. Young and her research here.

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  • New paper by Kevin Turner “Isotopic evidence of increasing water abundance and lake hydrological change in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada”

    A new paper titled, “Isotopic evidence of increasing water abundance and lake hydrological change in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada” co-authored by GeoTour Associate Professor, Dr. Kevin Turner, was recently published in Environmental Research Letters.

    Abstract:
    Lake-rich northern permafrost landscapes are sensitive to changing climate conditions, but ability to track real-time and potentially multiple hydrological responses (e.g. lake expansion, drawdown, drainage) is challenging due to absence of long-term, sustainable monitoring programs in these remote locations. Old Crow Flats (OCF), Yukon, is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance where concerns about low water levels and their consequences for wildlife habitat and traditional ways of life prompted multidisciplinary studies during the International Polar Year (2007–2008) and led to the establishment of an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program. Here, we report water isotope data from 14 representative thermokarst lakes in OCF, the foundation of the monitoring program, and time-series of derived metrics including the isotope composition of input waters and evaporation-to-inflow ratios for a 13 year period (2007–2019). Although the lakes spanned multiple hydrological categories (i.e. rainfall-, snowmelt- and evaporation-dominated) based on initial surveys, well-defined trends from application of generalized additive models and meteorological records reveal that lakes have become increasingly influenced by rainfall, and potentially waters from thawing permafrost. These sources of input have led to more positive lake water balances. Given the documented role of rainfall in causing thermokarst lake drainage events in OCF and elsewhere, we anticipate increased vulnerability of lateral water export from OCF. This study demonstrates the value of long-term isotope-based monitoring programs for identifying hydrological consequences of climate change in lake-rich permafrost landscapes.

    Reference:
    MacDonald, L.A., Turner, K.W., McDonald, I., Kay, M.L., Hall, R.I., and Wolfe, B.B. (2021). Isotopic evidence of increasing water abundance and lake hydrological change in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada. Environmental Research Letters, 16(12): online.

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  • New paper by Dragos Simandan “Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality”

    A new paper titled, “Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality” by Professor Dr. Dragos Simandan was recently published in SSM – Population Health.

    Abstract:
    Scholars in the field of population health need to be on the constant lookout for the danger that their tacit ideological commitments translate into systematic biases in how they interpret their empirical results. This contribution illustrates this problematic by critically interrogating a set of concepts such as tradition, trust, social capital, community, or gender, that are routinely used in population health research even though they carry a barely acknowledged political and ideological load. Alongside this wider deconstruction of loaded concepts, I engage critically but constructively with Martin Lindström et al.’s paper “Social capital, the miniaturization of community, traditionalism and mortality: A population-based prospective cohort study in southern Sweden” to evaluate the extent to which it fits with other empirical findings in the extant literature. Taking as a point of departure the intriguing finding that social capital predicts cardiovascular and all-cause mortality only for men, but not for women, I argue that future research on the nexus of social capital, health, and mortality needs to frame gender not only as a demographic and statistical variable, but also as an ontological conundrum and as an epistemological sensibility.

      Reference:
      Simandan. D. (2021). Social capital, population health, and the gendered statistics of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. SSM – Population Health, 16: online.

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    • New paper by Julia Baird “Ecosystem services decision support tools: exploring the implementation gap in Canada”

      A new paper titled, “Ecosystem services decision support tools: exploring the implementation gap in Canada” by Dr. Julia Baird was recently published in FACETS.

      Abstract:
      This paper explores the degree to which the ecosystem services (ES) concept and related tools have been integrated and implemented within the Canadian government context at both the provincial/territorial and federal levels. The research goals of the study were to qualitatively assess the extent to which ES assessment is being integrated at different levels of government, consider the barriers to implementation, and draw lessons from the development and use of Canada’s Ecosystem Services Toolkit: Completing and Using Ecosystem Service Assessment for Decision-Making—An Interdisciplinary Toolkit for Managers and Analysts (2017), jointly developed by a federal, provincial, and territorial government task force. Primary data were collected through targeted semi-structured interviews with key informants combined with a content analysis of ES-related documentation from government websites. Results indicate that while the term ES is found in documentation across different levels of government, there appears to be an ES implementation gap. Issues of conceptual understanding, path dependency, a lack of regulatory mandate, lost staff expertise, and competition with overlapping conceptual approaches were identified as barriers to ES uptake. Areas requiring further policy and research attention are identified.

      Citation:
      Kerr, G.L., Holzer, J.M., Baird, J., and Hickey, G.M. (2021). Ecosystem services decision support tools: exploring the implementation gap in Canada. FACETS, 18: online.

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    • New paper by David Butz: “‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan”

      A new paper titled, “‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan” by Dr. David Butz and Dr. Nancy Cook (Department of Sociology) was recently published in Gender, Place and Culture.

      Abstract:
      Shimshal is the most recent village in the Gojal region of northern Pakistan to gain road access to the Karakoram Highway. This paper analyzes relational reconfigurations of gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in the community that are contoured by the ensuing shift in local mobility system, in which vehicular mobility replaces walking as the means to access the highway. Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic data, we describe pedestrian-era gendered movement patterns and spaces, and the ways in which modernizing road infrastructure has reorganized mobilities and regendered village spaces. We then analyze changes in gender performances and self-representations that are commensurate to the modernized spaces in which they are enacted. We conclude by assessing the uneven and unanticipated consequences of these mobility-inflected processes for gendered futures in the community.

      Reference:  
      Cook, N. & Butz, D. (2021) ‘The road changes everything’: Shifting gendered mobilities, spaces and subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan. Gender, Place & Culture, 28(10), 800-822. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2020.1811643. Read the full paper here.

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    • Brock research teams awarded federal funding for community partnerships

      Three Brock University teams have received a boost in funding for projects that aim to help Niagara organizations meet the needs of women and children during the pandemic and provide opportunities for Indigenous communities in the region’s tourism industry.

      The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has awarded the researchers a total of $57,477 through the Partnership Engage Grant (PEG) program, which provides short-term support for partnered research activities that respond to immediate needs and time constraints facing public, private or not-for-profit organizations in non-academic sectors.

      With the funding, Political Science Professor Charles Conteh and his Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) group are working with the YWCA Niagara Region to raise awareness of the need for safe and affordable housing for women locally and to identify systemic barriers facing under-represented women.

      Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Monique Somma and her team are partnering with the not-for-profit forest school Nature School and Education Centre in Lincoln to get a better understanding of how forest schools impact students’ mental health and well-being.

      Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies David Fennell and colleagues have teamed up with the Niagara Regional Native Centre to develop new tourism opportunities for Indigenous people through the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark, an initiative that explores how the region’s unique cultural and Indigenous heritage has been influenced by the peninsula’s underlying geology.

      Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon says the PEG awards are a testament to Brock’s effectiveness in forming dynamic community research partnerships.

      “The projects headed by Dr. Conteh, Dr. Somma and Dr. Fennell are powerful examples of how researchers and community organizations can come together to create positive change,” he says. “Each partner brings valuable knowledge to the table that, when combined, can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those around us,” says Kenyon.

      “Brock has long seen success with the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) version of these grants, between science researchers and industry partners,” he says. “With the advent of PEG awards for social science and humanities research, we are seeing the breadth and intensity of Brock researchers’ engagement with the wider community.”

      The NCO and YWCA formed a partnership last year following an NCO presentation on research dealing with affordable housing. The YWCA executive director was a panelist at that event.

      “The co-applicants, Joanne Heritz, Kathy Moscou and myself determined that an NCO-YWCA partnership to advocate for affordable housing would provide an excellent opportunity for the YWCA to advance its goals for affordable housing set forth in its strategic plan for 2019-2024,” says Conteh.

      The team aims to produce evidence-based research that would bring about policy changes to ensure that vulnerable women — particularly those who are Indigenous, racialized, seniors and low-income, among others — have access to emergency, transitional and affordable housing.

      “Further, the YWCA-NCO partnership aims to provide policy options to address housing needs resulting from poverty and worsened by the economic disruption of COVID-19,” says Conteh.

      He says that in 2020, 607 women, 55 men and 51 children in Niagara found sanctuary in YWCA emergency shelters and 120 women, 10 men and 78 children accessed YWCA transitional housing programs.

      Somma’s work with the Nature School and Education Centre follows up on earlier research that the two pursued from the time their partnership formed in 2017. Those results revealed “an increasing need for more focused inquiries on mental health and well-being,” says Somma.

      Forest schools are full- or part-time educational programs conducted in a variety of outdoor contexts, environments, age groups and climates. The programs take a ‘learner-centred’ approach in which children learn through playing, exploring and experimenting in woods or other natural settings.

      “Given the strong connection between time in nature and mental health benefits, outdoor nature programming is touted as one possible way forward to address some of the mental health challenges coming from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Somma.

      Past research has shown that children aged six and younger have shown improvements in their overall health and well-being, increased motivation, concentration, confidence, knowledge of the natural environment and compassion by participating in forest schools, she says.

      The Nature School and Education Centre is seeking research on the impact of forest schools on older children to help the organization shape its programs and plans, says Somma. The Centre plans to offer about 10 tuition-free spots one day a week to new students and parents who would find this education approach helpful.

      Fennell says his work with the Niagara Regional Native Centre is looking at ways Indigenous people can “build new, cutting-edge tourism economies” connected to the Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark.

      A ‘geopark’ is defined by the Global Geopark Network as an area that has ‘exceptional geological heritage’ that has scientific value, is rare, good for education or is particularly attractive.

      Opportunities for Indigenous communities exist in ‘smart tourism,’ which is the application of information and communications technologies to enhance tourism experiences and increase competitiveness, says Fennell. One example could be “personalized, interactive real-time tours,” he says.

      “The development of these new economies provides an opportunity to strengthen Indigenous tangible and intangible cultural and ecological heritage, through the telling of stories and celebration of historical connections with the Niagara region.

      Fennell says the research is meant to support the Niagara Regional Native Centre’s goal for Indigenous Peoples’ economic growth through principles and practices of sustainable development and is an “initial step” in developing a longer-term smart tourism project.

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