NSERC CREATE: Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and sustainability

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Collaborative Research and Training Experience
  • Years: 2015/16 to 2019/20
  • Total Funding: $1,350,000
Keywords
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Project Summary

Environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented rate, raising concerns about the conservation of biodiversity (B), the maintenance of ecosystem services (ES), and the future of sustainability (S) - BESS. These concerns are especially pressing in tropical environments, where most of the world's biodiversity and humans reside and interact - and where natural resource extraction by Canadian companies is now very common. BESS will provide a multidisciplinary and immersive training experience that prepares the next generation of environmental scientists working with industry, environmental consulting firms, governments, NGOs, and universities. Skills that BESS training will impart include environmental monitoring, biodiversity surveying (especially with emerging technologies such as genomics and remote sensing), ecological impact assessment, mitigation strategies, the design of restoration projects, statistical analysis, adaptive forest and agricultural management, and mathematical modeling for predictive and prescriptive planning. The multidisciplinary aspect of BESS will be achieved through cooperation of a diverse group of co-applicants and collaborators who will administer and supervise complementary courses, an internship rotation, and thesis research. The immersive aspect of BESS will be achieved through these activities taking place on the ground in Panama. This immersion is the most critical and unique component of BESS: training occurs in situ where environmental problems are particularly complex and pressing, and where many Canadian natural resource extraction and environmental companies are invested. These core aspects of BESS will be implemented through a partnership between Quebec universities, Canadian companies working in Panama, and several Panamanian institutions, particularly the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. BESS graduates will substantially improve environmental knowledge for a broad range of Canadian interests in Latin America, the tropics, and in Canada itself.