Resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a disturbance, either by recovery or absorption, within an appropriate time frame. Disturbances include catastrophic events such as fires, floods, species disease as well as human activities: deforestation, use of pesticides, mining, or the introduction of non-native, intrusive plants, animals or insects. All of these events and activities affect the resilience of an ecosystem through reduction of biodiversity, climate change, or the pollution and contamination of an ecosystem. Understanding the phenomena of ecosystem resiliency within the context of environmental management will be a key emphasis of the program. We will also explore spatial resilience and how aspects of landscape management can either enhance or erode resilience.
Carbon and Biomass
A carbon-friendly future is among the greatest challenges currently facing humanity. Carbon accounting demands a rigorous understanding of methods and quantification, ethical and legal issues. The implications of protecting forests to store carbon and/or exploring forest biomass and biofuels will remain paramount approaches to understand. You will learn how geomatics can help us plan and implement advanced environmental management practices within this context.
The impact of using forest biomass for products and biofuels, in particular the effects of carbon output on environmental sustainability, requires effective management. How can advanced environmental management practices conserve healthy carbon levels? This theme addresses the use of advanced accounting methods to effectively manage output and protect public and private forests.
Ecological Goods and Services
Contemporary landscapes are often managed for multi-functionality of many ecosystem services. Ecosystem services span a diverse range of tangible and direct economic benefits as well as aesthetic, spiritual, and cultural benefits to society. Mapping the diversity of services, and how they change over time, as well as how they potentially interact in time and space is a continuing challenge. You will learn how to use state-of-the-art geomatics tools to address this challenge and communicate with many stakeholders on diverse landscapes.
Best practices in the environmental management of ecological goods and services provides:
Flood control by maintaining diverse and mature forests
Maintenance of water quality
Increased biodiversity by preserving large stands of heterogeneous forests, thus providing healthy habitats for wildlife and native plants
Attractive and healthy outdoor recreation areas creating economic benefits to communities through the use of land for hunting, fishing, camping, etc.
These are only a few examples of the need for advanced environmental management to increase ecological goods and services for the benefit of humankind.
Landscape Pattern, Heterogeneity and Change
As landscapes change over time, they produce different ecosystem services and may become more or less resilient. As part of this program, we will explore the fundamental ways in which landscape heterogeneity can affect ecological processes and ecosystem services and how best to quantify these changes in heterogeneity. Spatial pattern analysis and network analysis will be explored as ways to help us track changes in connectivity. Be it planning for forestry, urban development, or national parks and conservation, the myriad ways of analyzing landscape patterns will be addressed.
Socio-ecological Perspectives for Environmental Management
A social-ecological systems perspectives provide a lens to understand the dynamics and drivers that influence how humans value, use and interact with non-human nature in diverse environmental management contexts.
Charting sustainable outcomes in a rapidly changing and often contested world requires an integrated understanding of the factors shaping resource and conservation systems. Through this theme, students will be exposed to different frameworks for integrating social and ecological variables, and a range of analytical tools that can be used to 1) understand feedbacks across spatial and temporal scales and 2) identify key trade-offs inherent to environmental management and decision making. Through these activities, students will examine the multi-scalar linkages between social, economic and ecological systems as they combine to influence policies, management objectives and outcomes (both ecological and social) in resource management systems.