Articles by author: ncastelli

  • Keeping Brock green makes for a busy tree planting program

    From The Brock News

    It was hard not to notice the row of honey locust trees in front of Taro Hall being removed in October to make way for the $24-million expansion of Brock’s Goodman School of Business.

    Less obvious, however, is the plan that had long been in place to replace them with even more new trees around campus.

    In the past two years about 155 new trees have been planted by the Brock grounds crew, an initiative that can be traced to the construction of the Cairns Family Health and Biosciences Complex, said John Dick, Manager, Ground Services.

    “When Cairns came along, we had to remove trees, but we planted way more trees than we removed,” said Dick. “They haven’t necessarily gone back in the same spot, but we’re planting mostly native trees and placing them in locations where they will thrive well into the future.”

    One of the challenges for Grounds Services is finding appropriate spots that will allow the trees to mature properly. Many areas have pipes and other obstructions that complicate the issue of digging and planting.

    “Sometimes you wonder why there’s a spot that doesn’t have trees, but there are a lot of underground services that prevent them being planted there,” said Dick, who added that maintaining a balance with wide open areas on campus is also important.

    Another issue crews have been dealing with for the past year or more is removal of dead or dying ash trees, as the relentless emerald ash borer insect continues to devastate those native hardwoods.

    “All of Niagara is affected. There are some treatments but they’ll only work for the short term. Most of (Brock’s ash trees) are showing signs of having the insect. There are a number of young trees that haven’t been affected yet, so the hope is they may outlive the insect,” said Dick, adding that most of Brock’s ash trees were fortunately not of significant size or age.

    As ash trees are removed, they’re replaced with a wider variety of species.

    “We try to add tree species to keep our diversity going,” said Dick, “so that we don’t have the same problem in the future.”

    Categories: Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock biologist featured in book on influential environmentalists

    From The Brock News

    Brock University biologist Liette Vasseur is featured in a recently published book profiling women environmentalists around the globe.

    “I was honoured, almost scared; I was so surprised,” Vasseur says of appearing in the book Citoyennes de la Terre (Women Citizens of the Earth), a collection of profiles complied by Florence Piron, a professor in the Department of Information and Communication at Laval University in Quebec.

    Vasseur was noted for a variety of accomplishments, including her work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Commission on Ecosystem Management, being President of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) and president-elect of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists.

    She also holds a UNESCO Chair in Environmental Sustainability and is a member of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. She has research partnerships with a variety of Canadian and international governments and organizations.

    Vasseur is noted for her research on communities’ responses to climate change impacts and managing ecosystems in coastal and forested areas, taking her to such places as Burkina Faso and China.

    “Who would have thought that this little country girl, who loved to draw animals and help out her florist father, would one day become this accomplished woman who has contributed so much to research on climate change and sustainable development?” writes profile author Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau.

    “Who would have thought that her passion for the environment and communities would one day lead her to work with leading scientists on the other side of the planet and influence changes to environmental policies?”

    In the book, Vasseur joins such notables as Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and Canadian politician Elizabeth May.

    Categories: Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock, Australian university sign agreement on sustainability research

    Story from The Brock News

    Brock University has signed an agreement with the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in Australia that will enable Brock students to pursue a PhD in sustainability at USC.

    The memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed March 14 by Brock Professor and Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) member Gary Pickering and the Director of USC’s Sustainability Research Centre Tim Smith, formalizes a long-running research relationship between Brock and USC in the areas of global change, sustainability and resilience.

    For several years, USC has offered a transdisciplinary PhD program in sustainability that synthesizes research in the social, economic and behavioural sciences to address environmental and societal concerns.

    This new agreement will allow researchers from Brock’s ESRC to supervise students in the sustainability PhD program, and give students the opportunity to study in Australia and Canada.

    “The ESRC is tremendously excited to sign this MOU with USC. It will allow for deeper research partnerships between Brock and USC and it will bring doctoral students into the Centre who can contribute to its burgeoning research culture. This is a great step forward in the development of the ESRC,” says ESRC director Tim Heinmiller.

    “This MOU builds on existing, high impact research collaborations between the Sustainability Research Centre at USC and the ESRC at Brock. All involved intend this to be a very active MOU, and together help build the capacity in our young researchers and scholars to meet the global challenges in sustainability that we face,” adds Pickering.

    To strengthen this new partnership even further, USC has established a new PhD scholarship in Social Dimensions of Global Change. Under the MOU, Brock students can apply for this scholarship, which will cover tuition, living, and travel expenses.

    USC is offering one scholarship for this program. The deadline is April 29. For more information click here.

    To learn more about the PhD program click here.

    Categories: Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock University commemorates Earth Hour through words and action

    From The Brock News

    In the lead-up to this weekend’s Earth Hour, Brock University is actively promoting the concept of environmental conservation to our youth – by word and example.

    Biology professor and UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability Liette Vasseur is fresh off the heels of a live stream session that she delivered to high school students across Canada. Her lesson explored the inter-relationship between climate change and agriculture sustainability.

    Vasseur also supervises graduate students’ research on teaching environmental concepts to children in homeschools and elementary and secondary schools.

    “High schools need to have a course – or at least a half-course – on protecting the environment and sustainability,” says Vasseur, adding that this basic education can lead to more awareness and action down the road.

    At the university level, Brock has increased its “diversion rate” to 68.5 per cent in 2015.

    “That means that 68.5 per cent of materials we generated ended up not going to the landfill because of our Blue Bin recycling and organic waste collections,” says Domenic Maniccia, director of Custodial and Grounds Services.

    “It’s a collective effort between staff, faculty, students, food services, residence; everybody has a stake in it,” he says, adding that Brock University is among the Top Five environmentally sustainable universities in Ontario with respect to waste diversion.

    In addition, Brock University will be taking a number of measures to commemorate Earth Hour, which this year will take place from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. March 19. These include:

    • Parking Lots T, U, V in Zone 2: lights out (Zone 2 permit holders will be able to park in Zone 1 from 4 p.m. on March 19 as a result of lights out in Zone 2)
    • …. click here to continue reading this story.
    Categories: Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • USC revels in sustainable partnership with Canadian uni

    From the Sunshine Coast Daily

    THEY have only been together for three years, but the University of the Sunshine Coast and Brock University knew their relationship was meant to be.

    USC Professor Tim Smith and Brock Professor Gary Pickering signed a memoriam of understanding to build on existing collaborations between the Sustainability Research Centre at USC and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock.

    Prof Smith said the university’s respective sustainability centres had already joined a consortium of 10 partners from seven countries to participate in the Climate Adaptation and Water Governance project.

    CADWAGO has received more than one million Euros in funding from three European philanthropic organisations; Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Volkswagen Foundation, Compagnia di San Paolo and has seen key researchers advise European governments about best practice for dealing with flooding events based on researching events from around the world.

    A 14 minute joint video developed by the two universities was showcased at the world’s oldest academy, the Royal Society in London.

    The MoU also signals the introduction of a new PhD scholarship being offered by USC, which people can apply for until April 29.

    It is anticipated the agreement will foster closer collaboration between USC and Brock to maximize research opportunities and provide richer student experiences in the global and regional sustainability domains…

    Click here to continue reading.

    Categories: Sustainability

  • The University of the Sunshine Coast and Brock University commit to sustainability research

    Media Release

    The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and Brock University (Canada) signed an agreement today committing to collaborative sustainability research. The agreement builds on existing collaborations between the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) at USC and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) at Brock.

    It is anticipated that the agreement will foster closer collaboration between USC and Brock to maximise research opportunities and provide richer student experiences in the global and regional sustainability domains.

    Associate Professor Dana Thomsen who led the sustainability programs at USC for 8 years says “the agreement builds on current research between USC and Brock such as the Climate Adaptation and Water Governance project, which includes a consortium of 10 partners and attracted over 1 million Euro in external funding”.

    A joint video production between USC and Brock on flooding was recently showcased at the world’s oldest academy, the Royal Society, in London.

    USC has also offered a PhD scholarship to further these collaborations.

    For more information contact:
    Media Relations, University of the Sunshine Coast
    Ph: Terry Walsh 5430 1160, Email:

    Categories: Sustainability

  • New Sustainability PhD program information session being held

    From the Brock News

    An information session about a new PhD program in Sustainability, and its partnership with a university in Australia, is being held Tuesday, Jan. 26.

    The program will offer students the opportunity to study in Canada and Australia thanks to a partnership between Brock University and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

    The drop-in session runs from noon to 1 p.m. in the Scotia Bank Atrium in the Cairns building.

    Categories: Education, Sustainability

  • Canadian Scholars get wide backing on climate change solutions

    TORONTO — Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a network of over 60 researchers from all provinces of Canada, today released a new compilation, Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians at University of Toronto’s Hart House. The compilation consists of 28 individual and group reports representing a spectrum of viewpoints including First Nations, business, non‐governmental organizations, labour and private citizens from across Canada. It is a unique document given the number and the diversity of the viewpoints proposing climate solutions for the country.

    Earlier this year, the organization released Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, “a consensus on feasible solutions to help Canada transition to a low-carbon society and economy, beginning immediately.” The authors invited comments to expand the report, and over just a few months a new compilation evolved adding depth and breadth to Canada’s climate solutions agenda.

    “Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians shows Canada is brimming with ideas, possibilities and the will to act,” said UNESCO‐McGill Chair holder, Dr. Catherine Potvin, who spearheaded the initiative. “We released the new compilation at the height of the federal election campaign to help engage more Canadians in discussion of climate change as an essential issue for Canada’s future.”  Potvin said political candidates took notice, with representatives of four political parties confirming their intention to participate in the launch.

    “Throughout the federal election campaign, climate change discussions have centered on pricing carbon and restoring Canada’s image internationally. Sustainable Canada Dialogues found a variety of interesting climate action proposals in all federal party platforms—with the exception of Conservative—but found that ideas related to energy use are less developed than those related to energy production*.”  Potvin went on to say that energy use (such as in transportation and buildings) “… offers some of the best opportunities for win‐win solutions that could increase social well‐being while reducing emissions and increasing sustainability.”

    Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadiansbroadens the vision of “the possible,” said Potvin. She explained the compilation shows that for Canadians, climate action is also about:

    • Fully engaging Nation to Nation with Indigenous peoples on renewable energy projects;
    • Creating the right conditions to invest in green businesses and stimulate innovation;
    • Supporting workers, especially those working in the fossil fuel industries, during the transition to a low carbon society and economy;
    • Building partnerships for local implementation, bearing in mind that Canadians desire supportive communities;
    • Reinventing cities and redefining transportation in terms of access;
    • Taking into account the perspectives of youth, who will live out the consequences of decisions made today.

    “We hope that Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians could become the seed of an inclusive, country‐wide consultation on the best way for Canada to transition towards a low-carbon, sustainable society and economy.”

    Beyond the federal election, Sustainable Canada Dialogues aims to provide input to the next government to ensure Canada is equipped to put its best face forward at the Paris Climate Conference just weeks away.

    Representing Brock University are Drs. Liette Vasseur and Gary Pickering (ESRC, Biological Sciences, and CCOVI). 

    To view the new compilation or individual contributions to Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue, go to:

    * See attached,‐sustainability‐solutions

    Categories: Climate Change, Sustainability