Environmental sustainability is the theme as Brock teams up with Niagara Parks

The longstanding relationship between Brock University and the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) has entered a new era after the two institutions inked an agreement to work more closely in developing knowledge and practices in protecting the environment.

In a ceremony Friday (April 20) at the NPC’s School of Horticulture, Brock Provost and Vice-President Academic Tom Dunk joined Niagara Parks Chair Janice Thomson in signing a Memorandum of Understanding designed to enhance the conservation practices of both organizations, while creating educational and research opportunities for Brock students and faculty through their work with Niagara Parks staff.

Addressing members of the Parks Commission, Dunk praised the agreement as a reassuring sign of two organizations sharing a commitment to benefit people in the surrounding region, and far beyond.

“We are both significant Niagara institutions that share a responsibility to use our resources and abilities for the greater good of our own community, and indeed of the whole planet,” said Dunk.

A central player in this rekindled relationship is Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, whose Director, Ryan Plummer, was a key architect in developing the MOU and encouraging the collaboration behind it.

The MOU calls for creating an Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) that uses the expertise and resources of both organizations to increase environmental stewardship through public events and, in the case of students, through co-op education opportunities, course work and research.

Plummer said an example of the potential for this MOU can be seen at the Niagara Glen Nature Area, where some 130,000 visitors a year hike down trails through the forested Niagara Gorge to the edge of the rushing Niagara River. Staff and researchers from both organizations can study public perceptions of the environment in a setting like that, to better understand which stewardship activities work best and which can be improved upon.

“The MOU will advance the understanding and practice of environmental stewardship,” said Plummer. “Our partnership with the NPC addresses this two-fold challenge and does so in an iconic landscape. Engaging Brock faculty and students directly with staff from the NPC is sustainability science in action.”

NPC Chair Thomson said the timing of the new agreement with is ideal.

“This partnership reflects Niagara Parks’ steadfast commitment to the environment,” said Thomson, “and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Brock University and its team at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre in further advancing and promoting our shared goals.”

Brock’s ESRC, a part of the Faculty of Social Sciences, is one of Canada’s leading environmental research units, encouraging research excellence in environmental sustainability and engaging in knowledge mobilization that impacts the environment.

Niagara Parks in an agency of the Ontario government, entrusted to preserve and protect the lands surrounding the Niagara River. Besides managing millions of visitors each year to its Niagara Falls attractions, the Commission operates a wide range of facilities along the Niagara River between Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, including historic sites, golf courses, nature trails, restaurants and its renowned School of Horticulture.

Story originally published in The Brock News.