It has been widely reported that Earth’s climate has changed in the past and that the global climate is changing now, due in large part to the activities of industrial society. The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report suggests that no place is immune to the impact that climate change is having on the environment, society and the economy. That’s why researchers from Memorial University are co-chairing a conference to examine the relationship of past, present and future climate and climate change to the land and sea resources of Labrador.
Dr. Trevor Bell, professor, Department of Geography, and Dr. John Jacobs, honorary research professor in Geography and program manager for the Labrador Highlands Research Group, are co-chairing Climate Change and Renewable Resources in Labrador: Looking Toward 2050.
“Labrador has long provided a living for its people from the renewable resources of the forest and tundra, lakes and rivers, and the sea,” said Dr. Jacobs. Today, while industrial development appears to dominate the economy, most of the Big Land remains undisturbed, with its natural ecosystems intact and elements of traditional land-use in place.
“Domestic and commercial use of the forests and the harvesting of fish and wildlife for subsistence, commercial and recreational use are still part of the Labrador way of life,” Dr. Jacobs added.
Organizers want to explore how the natural ecosystems that provide these renewable resources will respond to the changing climate and how Labrador communities will adapt if they are to maintain the option of an economy based on these resources.
Memorial University’s Labrador Institute, based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is hosting the meeting of scientists, renewable resource users and managers, policy makers and representatives from Labrador communities. The conference will be held in North West River, March 11-13. It will feature technical sessions as well as free information-sharing sessions and workshops for people from area communities.
The conference begins on the morning of March 11 with a public presentation, lunch and “mug-up” at the North West River Community Hall, followed the next day by technical sessions at the Labrador Interpretation Centre, which is also located in North West River, as well as displays and introductory public workshop at the community hall. The conference will conclude on Thursday morning at the community hall with an open workshop addressing questions of community resource policy and adaptation in a changing climate.
About 70 people are registered for the conference, with another 50 or more expected to attend the free public meetings and workshops.
The conference is sponsored by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Provincial Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Canada Program for International Polar Year, The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development (Memorial University), the Northern Ecosystem Initiative of Environment Canada, and the Labrador Institute of Memorial University.