News

  • A complicated relationship with Ladybugs

    The Multi-Coloured Asian Lady Beetle is considered an invasive species in Ontario, and they can outcompete some of our native species of lady beetles. (Photo: Kasia Zgurzynski)


    Submitted by the OSCIII team

    In an agricultural setting, insects can sometimes help farmers, while at other times be a nuisance. At first glance, many insects seem to fall into one of two categories: pests that damage crops or beneficials that help support crop production. Ladybugs, on the other hand, have a more nuanced role to play, particularly in vineyards.

    Ladybugs, more accurately known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles, can be voracious predators of pest species, eating as many as 5,000 aphids in their lifetime. With insatiable appetites, they can be beneficial to farmers as they act as a natural control for certain insect pest problems. They can even help to reduce the use of pesticides. The adults lay eggs near colonies of soft bodied insects, such as scale, mealybugs, and aphids, which are common vineyard pests. Once the larvae emerge, they immediately feast on the insect prey before searching for even more in the general vicinity. After they pupate and become adults, they travel even further to find food and continue their life cycle. In the right conditions, the adults can live for two to three years.

    In vineyards, lady beetles are most beneficial early in the season, when the grapes have not yet developed. Once the grapes develop, though, that changes and this is when they can become a nuisance. The lady beetles begin looking for overwintering areas, and can be found among grape clusters, particularly if those clusters are close to their insect prey. They can feed on fruits that have already been damaged, but they don’t damage the fruit or the vines themselves. The problem, however, is that lady beetles release a yellow fluid with a foul odour, known as methoxypyrazines, when they are disturbed. When grapes are harvested with lady beetles among them, this fluid then has the potential to taint the grapes and create an unpleasant taste in the wine.

    They are most likely to release this fluid if they are alive or have only been dead for a single day; they do not have the potential to taint the wine if they have been dead for more than three days. Lady beetles can appear quite suddenly, and some species can be plentiful, so careful monitoring of their populations is increasingly important as harvest approaches.

    It is true that some insects can be friend and foe, depending on the time of the growing season. Lady beetles are one of nature’s greatest assistants in the battle against agricultural pests, with some species actually being introduced purposely to offset the use of pesticides. There are vineyards around the world that do this, sometimes placing the lady beetles on the vines by hand. It can be labour intensive, but their appetites can make them a valued addition to vineyards. That is, if it is at the right time.


    This blog section will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • MEOPAR Shoreline Options Value Survey Results

    In this blog post, we present an update on the results of our recent virtual focus group and online survey that explored shoreline options for the Town of Lincoln.

    What options did community participants feel were important for resilient shoreline protection? How could we effectively reduce the impacts of highly variable lake water levels, increased storm events and erosion? These were the questions we asked participants back in April 2021. The results were then clustered in three groupings, which represent the overall preferences that participants chose ranked from highest to lowest (1 to 9).  We named the clusters “green”, “silver”, and “grey”.

    Download the Survey Results Infographic

    In the survey, we asked participants to reflect on the values that each shoreline option represented. Are government control and existing land use planning tools able to address shoreline impacts? Is individual autonomy and enjoyment of private landowners more preferred to reduce risk? What about increasing biodiversity and the role of green space in lessening negative impacts? Does environmental protection help to reduce social risk?

    The results might surprise you. While the “green” options favoured urban parkland and green infrastructure, the results in this cluster also included the need for collaboration between landowners as being an important consideration for finding long-lasting solutions. “Silver” options included tax relief, subsidies, and managed retreat, which were viewed as necessary to respond to changing risk. “Grey” options included maintaining existing shoreline land use, insurance coverage for replacing weather-related losses, and the use of traditional grey infrastructure methods.

    From a values perspective, “green” options reflected the broadest range of considerations: development, biodiversity, control, reducing social risk, fairness, and aesthetics. In the case of “silver”, those options reflected flooding and erosion protection, development, fairness, and biodiversity. “Grey” options included aesthetics, enjoyment, biodiversity, and security.

    It is important to note that these survey results reflect the opinions of the participants and do not represent official positions of either the municipality nor any other government agency. They are intended to promote further discussion.

    You can read more about our MEOPAR study here.  The survey was also highlighted in the recent Newsletter of the Coastal Zone Association of Canada, which can be found here.

    Watch for upcoming sessions where we will invite you to explore these ideas further and how this process may have changed the views of people regarding climate change adaptation. Dates and times will be posted on the Beyond Sustainability events page.

    For more information or to provide comments, e-mail us at: meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • What is sustainability?

    Sustainability is a well-known and frequently used 21st century term.  With how often you likely see or hear the word, have you ever stopped to think about what sustainability really means?

    Sustainability is widely defined as “the ability to have something or an activity maintained at a certain stable rate or level”. This term has been used in various contexts. Corporations, such as the  oil industry for example, are using it to show that they will be profitable and operational for a long period of time.

    Sustainability comes from the practice of “nachhaltigkeit”, a term coined in 1713 by German foresters that is translated to mean “sustained yield” in English1.  Sustained yield refers to the practice of taking only enough trees as will allow forests to naturally regenerate well into the future. The concept of sustained yield eventually moved beyond the forestry discourse to include the conservation of plants, animals, and other food necessities now also. It is still mainly confined to research and science, however.

    Most definitions of sustainability today also include concerns for the environment, social equity, and economic prosperity2. For instance, environmental sustainability aims at reducing the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. Sustainability, in the context of the environment, looks at the activities required to protect the environment while balancing social, cultural, and economic needs. It is generally accepted that the goals of environmental sustainability are related to the need to conserve our natural world, with a shift away from the current resource-intensive way of living2.

    Sustainability in the business world, however, does not always relate to the protection of nature or social justice. It is often associated with efficiency, profitability and even growth. But things are changing. Recent research shows that businesses which embrace environmental and social governance approaches tend to not only reduce their environmental impact and increase diversity, but also reduce costs, as well.

    When we think about sustainability, it is important to remember that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas on Turtle Island have been practicing this concept from time immemorial. Indigenous Peoples have been long-time practitioners of sustainability, as for them, it relates to being stewards of the land — you only take what you really need and can use. Sustainability for the Indigenous underlines the importance of looking at the past 7 generations to make informed, respectful, and balanced decisions for the next 7 generations to come. Sustainability is a long-term vision and process of continual environmental commitment to improvement.


    References

    1. Grober, U. (2007). Deep roots-a conceptual history of sustainable development (Nachhaltigkeit). Retrieved from: https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/11077/ssoar-2007-grober-deep_roots_-_a_conceptual.pdf?sequence=
    2. Baker, J., Dupont, D., & Vasseur, L. (2021). Exploring Canadian Ramsar Sites Ecosystem Governance and Sustainability. Wetlands, 41(1), 1-11.
    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

  • I spy, with both my eyes, something that is more sustainable: Two-eyed seeing

    Contributors: Liette Vasseur, Catherine Longboat and Jocelyn Baker.


    How do we see the world? This is a question of enigma and reflection: Do all of us see the world and the knowledge that we acquire in the same way?

    Throughout human civilization, the way to acquire knowledge has changed. For hunter-gatherers, most of their knowledge came from nature, including understanding seasonal changes, the tracks of animals, etc. When humans later became sedentary and started pursuing agriculture, they began to derive knowledge not only from nature, but from their own experience with crops, and gradually, with livestock.

    With this, in the Western world, humans began to take more control over nature, leading to devaluating the value of nature. Humans instead began to see themselves as the predominant force upon the Earth’s ecosystems. This period of human history also led to the development of many religions which viewed humans not as part of nature — but as superior to nature. With the development of new technologies and the transition to the industrialized world came the use of fossil fuels and the era of science. The sciences have brought benefits that were not imagined in times past. With modernization also came an increasing need for more resources, which lead to competition, instead of collaboration, between countries and corporations. Under such a system, trade and the economy have increased. The sciences also became a major focus in academic institutions and research centres and new “discoveries” and technologies have become a must in society, while simple things, such as a having a walk in nature, are becoming increasingly obsolete.

    This nonstop race for new knowledge has led to the belief that only scientists know the answers and can solve problems. This human hierarchy has pushed aside contributions from certain groups of peoples, as their knowledge was felt to be unfit for resolving issues. Indeed, some of their principles, values and beliefs may interfere with market production. This is how Indigenous knowledge became relegated to the margins of colonial living and the Western capitalist system. Indigenous knowledge was therefore not included as Western scientific knowledge.

    With a gradual acknowledgement that technology cannot fix everything, and the increasingly dire situation of the degraded Earth, humans have started to realize that other forms of knowledge may be better suited to solving the problems that humanity faces, such as biodiversity loss, land degradation, and climate change.

    This is where Indigenous knowledge becomes important to acknowledge and respect. Indigenous knowledge is based on a different worldview than modern Western society. In Indigenous cultures, humans have a strong relationship with nature and are thus one among many other species. There is no question that mutual respect and reciprocity is foundational for understanding relationships on Earth and beyond. The Indigenous traditional knowledge is based on the natural world and information that has been transmitted from generation to generation over millennia. What is wonderful is that in recent years, there has been an increased will to embrace these two types of knowledge — scientific and traditional knowledge — into what has now been called “Two-Eyed Seeing,” or Etuaptmumk in Mi’kmaw.

    This concept of Two-Eyed Seeing was introduced by Mi’kmaw First Nation (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) Elders Albert and Murdena Marshall as a means to bridge Western science and Indigenous knowledge1. Two-eyed seeing promotes using one eye to see the strengths of Indigenous knowledge, the other eye to see the strengths of mainstream knowledge, and both eyes together when fully ‘seeing’ the world around us1. The goal is to create cross-cultural collaboration. Two-eyed seeing is underpinned by the belief that there are many ways of understanding the world, some of which are derived from Western sciences and others by various Indigenous knowledge systems. What is important is that both knowledges are seen as equitable, embracing the idea of having cultural respect for any action and not changing the other without agreement.

    The goal of two-eyed seeing is to bring awareness of alternative ways of knowing (where diverse perspectives can work together) with the aim of creating equity, where no one perspective has domination over the other 2.  Using both eyes together creates alternative ways of addressing solutions as afforded through different ways of seeing, by offering opportunity to look through a different lens and create solutions that may not be perfect or without flaws 2.  An important aspect of two-eyed seeing is the framework for a plural co-existence of worldviews 2. The important consideration, especially for the natural world, is remembering that all systems are interconnected, and human systems are to work in conjunction with the natural world in order to support and complete the whole ecosystem.


    1. Bartlett, C., Marshall, M., & Marshall, A. (2012). Two-eyed seeing and other lessons learned within a Co-learning journey of bringing together Indigenous and mainstream knowledges and ways of knowing. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2(4), 331-340. doi:10.1007/s13412-012-0086-8

    2. Broadhead, L., & Howard, S. (2021). Confronting the contradictions between western and Indigenous science: A critical perspective on two-eyed seeing. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 17(1), 111-119.

    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

  • Parasitic Wasps: Unseen Vineyard Warriors

    Fairyfly (more formally from the wasp family Mymaridae, as seen in the photo inset) is a name given to some species of tiny wasps (mostly 0.5-1.0mm) that are thought to be important parasitoids of vineyard pests. They may also be attracted to cover crop plants such as sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), shown growing below the vines in a local vineyard in the photo above (photos by Kasia Zgurzynski and Heather VanVolkenburg).


    When grape growers consider using cover crops in their vineyards, they likely look at plants that can grow well between rows of vines, such as clover or rye. These, and other common cover crops, provide farmers with benefits such as the reduction of soil erosion, improved nutrient cycling and weed inhibition. It is also possible to grow cover crops that are attractive to beneficial insects, which can be achieved by planting directly under the vines. In doing so, farmers may encourage the presence of beneficial organisms, such as parasitoids (i.e., parasitic wasps), to target pests that feed on grapes and vines.

    Parasitoids are insects that lay eggs in the bodies of other insects, such as leafhoppers and moths. Although they vary in size, most parasitic wasps are smaller than one centimetre — some are even as tiny as a fraction of a millimetre. Mymaridae, the family of parasitic wasps also known as fairyflies, includes the smallest insects known to science. They are important to agriculture because members of this family parasitize pests, particularly leafhoppers. Another family of particular importance in viticulture includes wasps that parasitize the grape berry moth, which is a common grapevine pest. Parasitic wasps can also influence pest insect populations, but more research is still needed to fully assess their efficiency in that regard.

    It is easy to take these wasps for granted. They occur naturally throughout the landscape, but due to their small size, we are more likely to see the parasitized pests than the wasps themselves. Some grape growers choose to buy adult wasps and release them into their fields. The introduction of beneficial insects in this way is referred to as classical biological control and can be an important part of an effective and sustainable integrated pest management program. Conservation biological control, on the other hand, involves creating the right conditions in the landscape to attract naturally occurring beneficial insects, rather than manually releasing them in the area. Whether the population is natural or released, farmers can support and encourage the presence of beneficial insects by providing the adults with food sources such as nectar and pollen, i.e. flowers.

    Here at Brock University, we are currently testing cover crops that could be planted in vine rows. One of these is sweet alyssum, a popular horticultural plant that provides a floral display and sustenance for beneficial insects. Since it is the flowers of alyssum that attract parasitoids, the plant mainly serves its purpose while in bloom. The flowers on sweet alyssum are wide and shallow enough that parasitic wasps can feed on them effectively with their small mouthparts. More research is also needed to uncover other types of insects that feed on alyssum, and whether it also attracts pests. It grows as a hardy annual in Ontario, so it usually needs to be seeded every year (although it has been shown to be able to reseed itself) and does not provide the ideal winter habitat that is important to many beneficial insects.

    Alternatives to pesticides, based on conservation biological control, are expanding and gaining momentum. Research is needed to learn which plants can better attract beneficial insects (such as parasitic wasps) and to help farmers make more informed decisions about their approach to pest control. Farm management and climate change, especially extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts, may affect the performance of alyssum and other cover crops as well as populations of parasitic wasps. It is important to understand how these various factors may impact the performance of plants and parasitoids.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with monthly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

     

     

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog

  • We can’t protect our planet without radically transforming our worldview — is it possible?

    Contributors: Liette Vasseur, Catherine Longboat, and Jocelyn Baker.


    Everyone has a worldview, a conception of what the world is like. Also referred to as a philosophy, a worldview is a collection of beliefs, values, attitudes, interpretations, and stories about the world around you. Worldviews inform your thoughts, behaviour, vision, relationships, knowledge, and actions. It is your picture of reality. Your worldview represents the reality of the world in which you live, your perception and your interconnectedness (on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level).

    Throughout history, human populations have developed a multitude of diverse ways to view themselves and the world around them. Worldviews have different origins, stemming from various social, cultural, religious, political, and economical systems that have developed over millennia. These different origins can inform and create similar worldview realities shared by different groups of people and societies.

    As humans developed neo-liberal ideas and developed different systems, civilizations, religions, and economic and political structures, humans began to believe they possessed a superiority to all other organisms on the planet. Many of these systems operated with the worldview that all organisms and resources on this planet are to be used and exploited for the benefit of human societies. For example, one of the predominant worldviews in the western world today is neoliberal capitalism, which describes one’s desire for a free market, largely unregulated by governments, based on trade, stock market and infinite economic growth. The current utilitarian mentality is, however, causing the degradation and depletion of most of this planet’s vital resources — including water, mineral resources, and organisms.

    There are many cultural frameworks and worldviews practiced by Indigenous Peoples around the world that differ greatly from this current western worldview, and many of which respect the earth as a Mother upon which all beings are expected to co-exist for their on-going sustainability. They live according to a set of ethics that reflect their obligation toward their relations whether considered animate or inanimate. Thus, protocols and processes for co-existence are about acknowledgment of balance and harmony. Acknowledgment of sacrifices and willingness to support one another are complex and inter-relationships include others than human beings. Unlike the neoliberal capitalism worldview, this worldview is not based on the importance of accumulating wealth and material goods.

    Most Indigenous worldviews involve humans striving to live in co-existence with all other beings. This is rooted in their understandings of various Creation stories that are passed down from generation to generation. While these stories vary, they all explain, from the very outset, that there is an interconnection that exists between all life. Notions such as interdependency, balance, and harmony are prominent, and the duty to care does not hinge on the human as master, but rather, on the two-legged co-existing as an equal being amongst all others, aiming for peaceful coexistence. In North America, the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, for example, addresses 17 aspects of Creation to be recognized, including ‘the people’ as being given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.1.

    With the increasing urgency to advance reconciliation and find solutions for the survival and sustainability of our planet, accepting and respecting multiple knowledges, worldviews, and ways of knowing are crucial. We can, and should, learn from sources outside the dominant neoliberal-capitalist system. There is an urgency to review how such systems are destroying the environment necessary for human existence.

    There is an urgent need to change the current western worldview, which is unsustainable for the future of human existence. The continuous economic and population growth of human societies should not come at the expense of nature. We need to radically transform our relationships with the natural environment and the focus for that change must include knowledges that perceive nature and humans as inter-connected, inter-related, holistic, balanced, and in harmony.

    Transformation of the western worldview calls for rethinking humans as being the most important, superior, and dominant creatures on the planet, and the natural world as subservient to human benefit. Most Indigenous worldviews share commonalities, where humans are not the most important creatures, relationships and community are at the heart of decision making, and all life is seen as sacred and interconnected.2.  Indigenous worldviews are holistic and recognize the interconnections between all peoples and all other beings. They also look back to their ancestors for guidance while simultaneously looking, at a minimum, seven generations forward into the future.2.

    Re-embracing a worldview that genuinely reflects Indigenous ways of knowing may serve to transform our relationship with nature and bring about a more sustainable social-ecological system for all beings on Earth.


    1. Stokes, J., & Kanawahienton Benedict, D. (1993). Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the natural world (english version). Retreived from: https://americanindian.si.edu/environment/pdf/01_02_Thanksgiving_Address.pdf

    2. Marshall, A., Beazley, K. F., Hum, J., Joudry, S., Papadopoulos, A., & Zurba, M. (2021). “Awakening the sleeping giant”: Re-indigenization principles for transforming biodiversity conservation in Canada and beyond. FACETS, 6, 839-869.

    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

  • Is it time to move beyond sustainability and begin thinking about radical transformation?

    Contributors: Liette Vasseur and Jocelyn Baker

    Access to clean, healthy water is essential for all life on Earth. As the world population continues to rise, natural ecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the threats of land conversion, invasive species, and the consequences of accelerated climate change. This has resulted in the loss of biological diversity. When an ecosystem functions correctly, it can provide enough food, shelter, water, and other goods and services required for all of the species within it. As soon as an ecosystem is degraded, however, it can lose its integrity, reducing or stopping the provision of services — including clean water.

    The major and enduring impacts of ecosystem destruction can be seen most prominently in the planet’s wetland systems. The livelihoods and overall survival of most cultures on Earth depend on the functions and benefits of wetlands for the purposes of food provision. Rice, for example, is grown in wetland complexes and is the staple diet of nearly half of the people on Earth. Most commercial fish and invertebrates, including crabs, lobster, and shrimp, also depend on wetlands for all or part of their lifecycle. The long-term global loss of all wetland types is estimated to be between 54 to 57 per cent, with the rate of losses four times higher in the last century than in previous centuries 1,2.  Inland wetlands have seen a 35 per cent decline since 1970, with 87 per cent total loss since 1700 3. Despite comprising only 3 per cent of the Earth’s total surface area, wetlands are estimated to contribute more than 40 per cent of all global ecosystem services, providing an estimated US $55 trillion (in 2020) annually to global economies 1,2.

    The sustainability of these ecosystems is therefore of great concern, but what is it that we are trying to sustain? Are we simply aiming to stop further wetland losses, being satisfied with the status quo? Or is it time to move beyond sustainability and begin thinking about radical transformation? The continuous growth of human populations and economies should not come at the expense of nature. At some point, nature will not be able to sustain people and maintain its contributions to all of us. It is critical that we rethink and transform our relationships with one another and the natural world. We need to change the current worldview because our current capitalist-neoliberal way of life is unsustainable. Pursuing infinite economic growth and resource exploitation — when we have a finite planet — is simply not working.

    Societies must also think differently about themselves and their relations with the natural world that supports them. As an example, the Western Humanist (or western human way of thinking) views humans as the most important species on the planet. With this worldview (a set of beliefs and values about one’s reality) comes the idea that humans have dominion over the natural world with the right to exploit all of its resources (including plants and animals) as they wish. Does this make sense? What does adherence to this worldview mean for the generations to come? Any decision we make leads to consequences, and the children of the future will pay for the degradation and overexploitation of today. What will happen when the water stops flowing and all the fish in the oceans are gone?

    Radical transformation is needed in order to rethink the way that humans live within the natural world; we are part of it, not superior to it. Maybe when we embrace this way of thinking, a more sustainable future will be waiting for us.


    References:

    1. Baker, J., Dupont, D., & Vasseur, L. (2021). Exploring Canadian Ramsar Sites Ecosystem Governance and
    Sustainability. Wetlands, 41(1), 1-11.
    2. Davidson, N. C., Van Dam, A. A., Finlayson, C. M., & McInnes, R. J. (2019). Worth of wetlands: Revised global monetary values of coastal and inland wetland ecosystem services. Marine and Freshwater Research, 70(8), 1189.
    3. United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem restoration for people, nature, and climate. Nairobi.

    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

  • Saving paper does not “save trees” — but it still helps the environment  

    A 92-acre plot of land on Lake Couchiching, in Orillia, Ontario, was recently cleared of trees to make way for the Lake Couchiching Residence project. The image above shows the same plot of land before and after the process began.


    If you are concerned about conservation, you have probably made a conscious effort to minimize the amount of paper you use in an effort to “save the trees.” Although using less paper is certainly a good thing for the environment overall, most Canadians would be surprised to learn that using less paper will not actually result in less tree harvesting.

    In Canada, the relationship between paper and forests is similar to the relationship between gravy and roast beef. Just as gravy is a by-product of cooking roast beef, paper is a by-product of producing lumber at a sawmill. Over 90 per cent of paper produced in Canada is made from the sawdust and woodchips left behind after the production of lumber, which is mainly used for building houses. Woodchip and sawdust residues are first used in the production of boxboard or paperboard (otherwise known as cardboard). Then, when that cardboard is recycled, the majority of it is made into paper products. In fact, most Canadians would be surprised to learn that almost all domestic paper comes from recycled cardboard, with the exception of remote communities with limited or no recycling capacity.

    In the Niagara Region, recycling processes are able to fully reuse and repurpose cardboard into other post-consumer paper products (including toilet paper). Even so, using less paper is still a worthwhile conservation goal for a number of reasons. Reducing your paper consumption will mitigate (reduce) the impacts of climate change by lowering the greenhouse gas emissions generated by processing pulp into paper. Paper is also a heavy and bulky product that uses considerable fossil fuel resources in the supply chain, from production through to shipping and receiving (transportation networks). Using less paper individually will reduce the amount of paper being transported overall, thereby reducing carbon emissions. An October 2019 waste management services report also found that most compost and recycle programs were being underutilized by Niagara residents, prompting a switch to a bi-weekly landfill collection cycle in order to encourage more recycling. Diverting that paper waste from landfills lessens the use of fossil fuels (by having fewer garbage trucks on the road for collection), reduces methane gas (a greenhouse gas produced by the decomposition of organic waste in landfills), and ensures a continuous cardboard supply for paper production.

    Aerial view of Lake Couchiching, where a 92-acre plot of land was recently cleared of trees to make way for a housing project.

    The paper industry in Canada has transformed considerably over the last 200 years, with a move away from environmentally unsustainable deforestation practices towards modern innovations, technologies, and the rise of sustainable forestry practices in the 1980’s. In fact, Canada was one of the first countries to support sustainable forestry management (SFM) at the United Nations Conference on the Environment in 1992. But what does all this really mean for Canadian forests?  Canada has 347 million hectares of forest that covers 38 per cent of its landscape and comprises 9 per cent of the world’s forest.  Canada is the world leader in sustainable forest management practices, as the majority of the country’s timber is certified as sustainably managed. Canada’s early adoption of SFM has also meant that Canadian forests have remained stable over the last two decades, with less than 0.5 per cent deforested since 1990.

    The United Nations defines deforestation as the permanent or long-term removal of forests from the landscape. It is the change of land-use from forest into something else, such as an urban area. Forest loss from forest fires, disease, and other natural disasters is temporary, with forests regenerating naturally as they always have. Logged forests are also not considered to be a permanent example of land-use change, as these forests are required to be replanted and regenerated under law. This is not to suggest that there are no issues in terms of loss of biodiversity or ecosystem function. The largest deforestation impacts to Canadian forests are from agriculture, urbanization, mining, oil and gas exploration, highways, hydro-electric infrastructure, and recreational uses such as ski hills and golf courses. These practices have resulted in the permanent loss of Canadian forests.

    So while conserving paper is still a great thing to do, remember that you are not technically saving trees by doing so. Rather, you are diverting waste from landfills, minimizing the use of chemicals used in the paper-making process, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions — all of which play an important part in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Online panel seeks to ensure equitable future for all academic talent

    Brock University faculty, staff, students and members of the broader community are invited to attend an interactive online session to learn more about the barriers women face in academic prize and award processes.

    The session takes place Wednesday, June 23 at 3 p.m. and will feature Liette Vasseur, Professor in Biological Sciences and UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, as well as a panel of experts from universities across Canada.

    The panel seeks to raise awareness of the major issues surrounding STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) prizes and awards, and to provide solutions for breaking down barriers in academic prize and award landscapes.

    The panel follows the publication of a report entitled “Prizes & Awards: closing the gender gap to ensure an equitable future for all academic talent,” authored by Vasseur and Jocelyn Baker, Research Assistant with Brock’s UNESCO Chair. The report, which is available in English and in French, highlights how women scholars statistically win fewer prizes than men, receive less financial compensation, and are denied the same access to the accolades and distinguishing benefits that awards bring.

    The paper reviewed 11 prestigious Canadian and global academic prizes and awards to highlight the barriers to awards that exist for women in STEM and then offer key considerations and good practices that can be implemented for calls for nominations and selection committees. The overarching goal is to ensure that future top prize winners are of the most deserving talent, regardless of gender.

    Deb Saucier, President and Vice-Chancellor of Vancouver Island University, will moderate the discussion, which will also feature Nicole Fenton, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue; Jeremy Kerr, University of Ottawa; Juliet Daniel, McMaster University; and Shohini Ghose, Wilfrid Laurier University.

    The panel will take place on Lifesize and is free and open to all members of the public. Pre-registration is not required and interested participants can join the discussion here.

    Categories: Activities & Events, Updates of the Chair

  • Launch of Shoreline Public-to-Public (P2P) Online Survey

    In previous blog posts we have highlighted some of the various ways that we can build resilience through robust adaptation, including options for enhanced shoreline protection (https://brocku.ca/unesco-chair/news-3/).

    During the MEOPAR project, we have also listened to you, as part of our interviews, focus groups, and informal chats. In addition to enhancing green spaces and using both natural and traditional shoreline protection, you helped us identify a number of other options, such as tax relief and subsidies for improvements, technical guidance, insurance coverage, and facilitating managed retreat.

    The team has compiled these options and created a survey to let you rank them in terms of your personal experience, preferences, and values. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow us to have in-person meetings to continue our discussions; so, we are moving online with a few tools to further the understanding of opportunities and challenges for climate change adaptation in Great Lakes communities, such as Lincoln, and elsewhere. First, we will be rolling out an on-line survey. This on-line survey makes use of a public-to-public (P2P) platform decision support tool (DST) developed by the University of Waterloo’s Dr. Simone Philpot.

    We would love to get your input on what you consider appropriate risk-based options. If you are interested in participating in the survey, please contact us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca and we will provide you with what you need to know to take the survey.

    We will be coming to you soon with other opportunities to continue the discussion… virtually, of course!

    Thanks again for your interest in the MEOPAR project. Your input will help us co-create community solutions to address the issues of resilient shoreline protection.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog