Protecting Canada’s vast wealth of natural resources, which contribute significantly to our national economy, will depend on our ability to manage ecosystems and all the services they provide for human well-being now and in the future. Leading sustainability scientist, Elena Bennett, a professor in the School of the Environment and Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has assembled a network of researchers to ensure that Canada’s working landscapes – land actively used for production of resources such as food – remain biologically diverse, resilient, and adaptive.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has announced $5.5 million for NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience, to conduct research through a partnership between academics, industry and government organizations. Funded by the Strategic Partnership Grant Program, contributions from McGill and partners bring the total investment to more than $9 million over five years. NSERC ResNet brings together 26 co-applicants from 11 universities, 30 collaborators, and 17 partner organizations.
“McGill is very proud to lead this vital network, which will ensure Canada pioneers the adoption of technologies and policies that allow humans to thrive while protecting the ecosystem services of global landscapes,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “Thank you to the Government of Canada for this significant investment and congratulations to Professor Bennett.”
Bennett’s network of researchers will monitor and model ecosystem services – the benefits people obtain from nature – in a six working landscapes across Canada, including in Quebec. In addition to food, energy and timber, Bennett’s research will focus on ecosystem services such as carbon storage, flood regulation, recreation and spiritual enhancement. In each landscape, NSERC ResNet will launch a series of investigations, co-designed with local industry, government, NGO, and Indigenous partners and other stakeholders, into the provision, modelling, and governance of multiple ecosystem services in Canada’s important working landscapes.
“I’m thrilled that NSERC has given me the opportunity to work with this truly exceptional and diverse team of academic, government, and industry scientists,” said Bennett. “By working together in a series of landscapes across this vast country, we will be able to find the common threads that link Canada’s working landscapes to improve their resilience and sustainable management.”
The goal of the five-year project is to transform Canada’s capacity to monitor, model, and manage its working landscapes and all the ecosystems services they provide for long-term well-being and shared prosperity of all Canadians. The researchers will support this goal by delivering an ecosystem services dashboard and a series of models to measure Canada’s progress in its sustainability goals.