News Release

REF NO.: 57

SUBJECT: More than $6.5 million for Memorial University-led natural resources research

DATE: March 2, 2016

With a combined investment of more than $6.5 million from the federal and provincial governments, Memorial University is advancing critical research focused on Canada’s valuable natural resources. Through funding announced today, Memorial is leading a cross-country project aimed at improving the sustainability of marine resources for future generations, as well as a project to better understand the effects of climate change on Canada’s boreal forests.

Bardish Chagger, federal minister of Small Business and Tourism, and Christopher Mitchelmore, provincial minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development and the minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, made the announcement during a news conference on the St. John’s campus.

Dr. Paul Snelgrove, professor of ocean sciences and biology, Faculty of Science, is receiving $5 million over five years through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Network Grants and $1 million over five years, plus access to specialized equipment and laboratory space, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. He is the lead researcher and director of the NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), titled Conservation Strategies for Canada’s Changing Oceans. Dr. Susan Ziegler, professor of earth sciences and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Science, Faculty of Science, is receiving $590,812 over three years from NSERC’s Strategic Partnership Grants, as well as $96,000 over three years from the provincial government’s Centre of Forest Science and Innovation. Her project is titled Climate Controls on Terrestrial-to-aquatic Biogeochemical Fluxes in Boreal Forest Watersheds.

“Through the Strategic Partnerships, Memorial University will connect with companies and government organizations to increase research and training in order to enhance Canada’s economy, society and the environment,” said Minister Chagger. “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate Dr. Ziegler and Dr. Snelgrove for their research grants and look forward to hearing about their future discoveries, which will strengthen Canada’s ability to manage its forest and marine resources.”

Minister Mitchelmore says the provincial government is pleased to have partnered with Dr. Ziegler since 2010.

“The Centre of Forest Science and Innovation is a catalyst for forest research in Newfoundland and Labrador, focusing on innovation and diversification,” said Minister Mitchelmore. “We are proud to support Dr. Ziegler’s research. In a changing climate, understanding and predicting how organic matter will transform is a priority for sustainable forest management.”

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University, says today’s investments will empower Memorial researchers.

“Through the support of our federal and provincial governments, Drs. Snelgrove and Ziegler will collaborate with scientists across the country, conducting critical studies related to our natural resources,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “Our province and country will benefit from this important research based right here at Memorial. I applaud both levels of government for this vote of confidence in the expertise of our university.”

The goal of Dr. Snelgrove’s research is to enhance ocean sustainability and understand how different activities change marine living resources. The project will help Canada meet national and international commitments on sustainable oceans. It will also advance the new National Conservation Plan, a blueprint to protect Canada’s rich natural heritage which aims to increase protected areas and focus on stronger marine and coastal conservation. Phase one of the NSERC CHONe project was previously funded by NSERC from 2009-14. Today’s funding will support the second phase of Dr. Snelgrove’s research.

“The NSERC Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, in partnership with 11 Canadian universities and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, will provide a unique opportunity for our scientists and students to apply basic science research to facilitate sustainable oceans,” said Dr. Snelgrove. “By also partnering with key collaborators across the country, we are helping ensure healthy oceans for future generations of Canadians. Memorial University is proud to lead this initiative.”

Through investments announced today, Dr. Ziegler will study the effect of climate change on boreal forests which will in turn inform forest policies.

“This collaborative research with our partners will provide a predictive understanding of climate change responses in boreal forests and their associated aquatic ecosystems,” said Dr. Ziegler. “In doing so our team will fill a significant gap in our understanding of climate change impacts on natural resources, such as forests, soils, ground and surface waters, which are important to Canada. We will also inform forestry management practices aimed at reducing negative interactive effects of climate change and harvesting.”

As part of Dr. Snelgrove’s project, the Port of Sept-Îles and the City of Sept-Îles, through the L'Institut nordique de recherche en environnement et en santé au travail (INREST), are contributing $250,000; and the Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia is investing $5,000. Memorial is investing $375,000 in the project, while Dalhousie University is contributing $125,000.

Meanwhile, as part of Dr. Ziegler’s project, the federal government’s Atlantic Forestry Centre, which is based in Corner Brook, N.L., is providing in-kind contributions valued at $663,638 over three years, and the provincial Forestry and Agrifoods Agency is providing $105,000 over three years through in-kind support.

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