Research is an integral part of the conservation cycle, from planning to field work, protection and stewardship. Nature is ever-changing. Beyond basic habitat monitoring and species inventory conservation actions need to adapt to new conditions and tackle new challenges. Research allows us to do just that. . Whether it be improving our practices for species recovery, expanding our knowledge about terrestrial and aquatic connectivity or designing better ways to restore our natural environment, research is at the heart of conservation.
This is why AFCN makes it a priority to support organizations carrying out cutting-edge conservation research. Have a look below to discover some of the projects we’ve helped bring to life.
The Kenauk Institute – Quebec
Established near Montebello, Quebec, the Kenauk Institute supports, coordinates and supervises scientific research and connects the Kenauk territory with the broader community. In line with this mission, numerous research projects are underway.
The institute brings together numerous experts and institutions to conduct research on a wide variety of topics. Recently, multiple forestry projects have been undertaken in collaboration with McGill University and other Canadian universities to compare and assess the impacts of various forestry techniques on increasing the forest’s resilience to climate change. Other research initiatives at the Kenauk Institute include working with the University of Vermont and the University of Illinois to better protect species of trout in Papineau Lake. Installing a weather station and monitoring habitat quality for the endangered Canada warbler have also been priorities at Kenauk in recent years. These research projects are made possible by the institute’s many partners, ranging from universities to conservation organizations.
The Kenauk Institute also focuses on providing insight into the world of conservation to the public, through numerous educational programs. In 2018, eight programs were successfully completed, including internship programs, activities designed for elementary school students, summer programs for undergraduate students and a science teacher professional development initiative. The institute also collaborated with the Outward Bound Youth Challenge Programs, providing children with an exciting opportunity to discover nature. These few examples are a testament to the Kenauk Institute’s central role in shaping the next generation of conservation experts.
NCC Combating Invasive Species – Ontario
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Ontario Region has been leading Canada’s largest battle against the invasive plant phragmites in the globally significant wetland complexes of the Long Point Region on Lake Erie.
In 2015, local biologists and scientists advised that the health of these coastal marshes was at a critical tipping point. Stands of phragmites crowd out native vegetation and hinder native wildlife from using the area, resulting in a decrease in both plant and animal biodiversity. Armed with this information, NCC established a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to acquire special permission from Health Canada to use an aquatic herbicide, similar to that used in the U.S. to control phragmites in the wetlands at Long Point.
Helicopters with automated spray booms and GPS tracking capability are combined with lightweight, amphibious Marshmaster tracked vehicles to reach each and every phragmites stand in the wetlands. To date, this highly successful pilot project has restored over 2,700 acres of important habitats, using advanced equipment and innovative techniques.
This pilot project, which now includes the watersheds entering Long Point Bay, continues to deliver a truly landscape-scale impact, with participation from all levels of government and private landowners. A rigorous monitoring plan delivered in collaboration with researchers at the University of Waterloo is helping demonstrate the benefits of this work and may assist in the availability of tools, such as aquatic herbicides, for the control of invasive species in Canada.
NCC-UQAM Research Chair on Hydrology and Conservation – Quebec
Throughout this upcoming partnership, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) will establish a long-term research chair on hydrology and conservation in Quebec. The goal is to create a long lasting program to acquire and share knowledge on water and terrestrial conservation, as well as to conduct applied research that benefits conservation, and implement best practices in land use planning and conservation. In order to share these best practices with communities and conservation organizations in Quebec and beyond, the project includes outreach activities.
To carry out these activities, five nature laboratories are to be established within NCC’s protected lands in Quebec. The areas chosen for these laboratories harbour a wide variety of ecosystems, from large watersheds to great forest landscapes and coastal shorelines. These uniquely diverse landscapes are ideal areas for research, teaching and long-term monitoring of the ecosystems – all of which will be undertaken under this partnership.
To learn more about how you can contribute to research in the field of conservation, click here.