15 Life On Land

SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

 Teaching and Learning:

  • The Labrador Institute and Grenfell Campus engages the local community in research and creation of scholarly knowledge by engaging with a multitude of local groups in their respective regions in such areas as salmon genetics, sub-suface soil contamination, forestry, and agriculture (p. 33). 


  • The Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) facility provides high-level research resources to support federal, provincial, university and private sector research priorities in forestry, agriculture and the environmental sector. The facility, with its three interconnected analytical research laboratories, builds capacity in analytical research with a particular focus on soils, plants, air and water.
  • More than $6.5 million going towards Memorial-led natural resources research. "Dr. Ziegler will study the effect of climate change on boreal forests which will in turn inform forest policies." This will help the team understand "climate change impacts on natural resources, such as forests, soils, ground and surface waters".
  • Drs. Wiersma and McMullin's paper on a lichen-focused system proposes "developing “an index of ecological continuity” for forests of interest. This scorecard of lichen species could then be used as a tool by conservation biologists and forest mangers — the more lichen it contains that are associated with old-growth areas, the higher the forest’s conservation value." They suggest "further steps would include training those responsible for assessing the forests, offering access to the expertise of trained lichenologists and taking advantage of new technologies such as DNA barcoding."
  • Balsom fir is a hot commodity for moose in Terra Nova Park. Grass acts as an invasive species and changes the ground vegetation which inhibits the growth of balsom fir hence the need for restoration. Researchers carried out experiments to determine if balsam fir would regenerate in Terra Nova Park without assistance or if it was necessary to replant them in the black spruce “savannahs." "Seedling plantings were carried out across a number of sites within the park using various ground preparation treatments." Seelding performance was monitored over a two year period. Findings revealed a high survival rate.
  • "A researcher from the Faculty of Science is among a large international group of experts who are recommending how to save nature from extraordinary biodiversity loss." A new paper Dr. Snelgrove co-authored in the journal Science "concludes that policy-makers must identify multiple conservation targets if we are to curb nature’s decline." He hopes that the CBD will take both he and Dr. Obura's advice and identify "multiple targets in order to provide an effective strategy that reverses multiple trends in biodiversity loss."
  • Faculty at Memorial are involved in a new study which shows "that invasive species can have a dramatic impact on native species — and that a strong proactive response can help mitigate those impacts." "The team hopes their findings will encourage governments around the world to make a stronger commitment to proactive policies designed to prevent the introduction of invasive species, as well as increased management targeting the early stages of invasion."
  • Dr. Shawn Leroux’s collaborative research project with Memorial alumnus and current biology PhD student Justin Strong tries to understand the island’s community of terrestrial mammals, both native and non-native, and their impacts through the development of the first-ever terrestrial mammal food web for the island. The team discovered that there are major consequences when non-native species are introduced such as the moose for example which are preventing the natural regeneration of boreal forest communities on the island.
  • "Researchers, including one from Memorial University, are forecasting a worldwide move towards smaller birds and mammals over the next 100 years." Dr. Bates and researchers used "characteristics that relate to the role of each species in nature... to understand the role of different animals within the environment around them". They are also trying to determine which species will become extinct in the next century. They hope their research will help guide conservation of these species. 

Public Engagement:

  • Members of Memorial community involved in the Protected Area Plan for the Island of Newfoundland document for public consultation. This plan "would create 24 new protected areas, expand two existing reserves, and create six transitional reserves – these latter reserves are areas that have significant ecological value but where surveys have indicated the potential for mineral or petroleum resources." Members of the Memorial community and citizens of NL are invited to engage with the current public consultation on the Protected Areas Plan.
  • "A number of representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments, educational institutions, community groups and tourism operators" gathered in St. Anothony to discuss a number of topics including but not limited to natural assets, including natural resources, ecosystems, water, climate, fishery, forestry, mineral exploration, protected wildlife reserves and sustainable energy potential.
  • The Wilderness and Ecological Reserve Advisory Council (WERAC), a committee formed of MUN staff, advises "the provincial government on the creation and management of wilderness and ecological reserves". "20 reserves have been created since the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves (WER) Act was passed in 1980". In addition in working to release the Natural Areas System Plan, they are "focusing on a number of potential new protected areas", particulalrly the Central Newfoundland forest ecosystem which "has been under pressure from forest harvesting, cabin development and mining interests for some time." The article states, "Setting aside significant ecological areas of the province as “environmental archives” provide natural, self-regulating benchmarks of ecosystem processes necessary for understanding the implications of environmental change."


  • A project was completed on Grenfell Campus where growth chambers were installed in the outer part of the RecPlex to support research in the Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) labs (p. 32).