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Researcher heads up forest study

By Jeff Green | May 18, 2007


Dr. Yolanda Wiersma is going to be kept busy this summer.

That's because one of the newest faces in the Department of Biology has just received a considerable lump of research funding from a national group.

The assistant professor, who specializes in landscape ecology and conservation biology, was awarded $120,000 from the Sustainable Forest Management Network, an incorporated non-profit Canadian research group based at the University of Alberta.

She'll use the funding to take a closer look at how protected areas can play a role in Canada’s sustainable forest management.

Dr. Wiersma is now heading up a cross-country research team that’ll examine best practices and innovative approaches in combing both conservation and economic goals in the boreal regions of Canada over the next 18 months.

“This funding will enable us to put together a team of experts with knowledge from across a broad spectrum of issues related to both sustainable forest management and protected areas research,” she said recently.

“Everyone on the team probably has different ideas of the role protected areas can play in sustainable forest management and part of the purpose of the project is to try to synthesize some of those ideas and highlight best practices.”

The funding was announced late last month.

Joining Dr. Wiersma on her team are a number of leading researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, the University of Alberta, and BC’s Simon Fraser University.Team members will consult broadly with partners in the forest industry, a well government and non-governmental agencies and First Nations groups who have an interest in reaching both protection and sustainable economies on the forested landscape here in this country.

“We’ll be able to take a broad-brush approach that looks at these issues from across the country,” Dr. Wiersma said.

“We’re taking a very broad definition of protected area in our research, and including everything from legislated areas with defined boundaries, such as national or provincial parks, which are what people think of when they hear the term protected area", through to alternative management prescriptions that the forest industry applies to the landscape.”

More information on her research project -- including those of other Memorial researchers invovled in similar projects -- was published in the May 17 issue of the Gazette.