Northern Policy & Development

Current research projects (2019-2023)

Modernizing Ecosystem Monitoring to Support Sustainable Development in the Eastern Canadian Arctic

Environmental monitoring and research are instrumental in conservation; to prioritize key areas and to resolve the mechanisms through which environmental change impacts wildlife and habitats. They are equally essential to support sustainable development, largely for the same reasons. Because of the significant costs of carrying out environmental monitoring in Canada’s Arctic, both conservationists and resource developers stand to gain from partnerships that increase efficiency. Canada’s northern Indigenous population also benefits greatly when resource development is guided by conservation, and when they are appropriately engaged in environmental research and monitoring.

Our project seeks to demonstrate the value of a modernized approach to environmental monitoring, through effective partnerships between science and industry, through increased participation of local people, through enhanced application of technology, and through innovative forms of knowledge synthesis and transfer. With field studies spread widely across the Eastern Arctic, our project explores the effects of resource development on Arctic wildlife. Working in close collaboration with industry, we use advanced technology to track birds’ movements and behaviour in relation to human development and disturbance. We use these results to inform environmental impact mitigation efforts by industry, and simultaneously, to contribute to national and international efforts to conserve Arctic biodiversity.

Our multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach is central to the project. This approach includes formal partnerships among academia, government and resource development companies, utilizes the existing infrastructure and valuable time-series from our long-term field stations, and includes a new Inuit Field Training Program to build capacity for environmental research and monitoring. Our project demonstrates how a multi-sector collaborative approach can increase the efficiency, reliability, and utility of environmental research and monitoring. These improvements can offer development companies greater clarity with respect to environmental constraints, and can offer Indigenous people and conservationists greater control over the balance between the risks and rewards of resource development.