The Humber River Basin (HRB) Project is an initiative under the direction of the Associate Vice-Principal (Research) of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College of Memorial and its partners. The project responds to critical issues decision-makers face concerning the sustainability of the Humber River Basin and its environs. By identifying common priorities across provincial, federal, and university domains, the action plan is coordinated to address key issues associated with land-use planning and, in a broader context, economic development and sustainability. Within the Humber Basin, rapid development of the land base, including a recent venture in resort development, offers new opportunities to cultivate the local economy. Such development opens Newfoundland and Labrador to new economic potential in business, (eco) tourism, recreation, cultural industries, and other areas.
One challenge of current development is the unification of existing industry with traditional lifestyles and values. The research connects such goals to the sustainability strategies of various provincial government departments, most notably those linked to climate change, biodiversity, environment, and innovation. In order to mitigate impacts of disturbance and to promote innovation as a means of sustainable development, strategies will require an understanding of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems as well as a grasp of the human socioeconomic dimension.
The work aligns well with the spirit of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan released in 2005 and has direct relevance to Actions 3, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 26, 27, and 39 identified in the plan. Funding support for the initiative will stimulate an R & D agenda in Western Newfoundland, provide opportunities for senior undergraduate students and promote development of graduate programming at SWGC. In addition, it will allow the university and its partners to leverage research funding from tri-council agencies and other sources in Canada and elsewhere.
A significant portion of the budget is allocated to salaries and stipends. Both masters and doctoral students work with the Centre for Environmental Excellence (CEE) to implement the project. Research coordinators and assistants have been hired for the project to coordinate data acquisition activities and technology transfer. Undergraduate students from SWGC or other institutions and agencies have been enlisted, providing students with a unique set of skills and the capacity to make contributions in the disciplines of ecology, statistics, and resource management. Graduate students will continue to be encouraged and integrated in all aspects of the research. Several international students will participate in the life of the project.
The HRB Project bridges the gap between economics and ecology. It responds directly to the government’s industrial strategy by expanding R & D as a means of promoting business through the expansion of goods, services and employment in the region. The research will be both problem-driven and tool-driven. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. The HRB Project also seeks to build individual and institutional capacity to undertake integrated assessments in the province. The human and technical capacity to do so is vital.
The basin offers a living laboratory in which to study systems that are ecological complex. It also offers one of the finest platforms for expanding R and D that will be used as a training ground to provide knowledge jobs for young workers in the region.
This initiative and its various research elements have links to major international universities around the world. In particular, the HRB Project provides an excellent opportunity to link Canadian and European workers dealing with risk analysis and Decision-Support Systems (DSS). Salmon research, bio-remediation, tourism research, biodiversity research, and estuarial science offer excellent potential to collaborate with the international community.
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