PUSHING POLICY AT IAIA 22 TO REDUCE FRESHWATER IMPACTS FROM BC’S MINES

Recent Master of Resource and Environmental Management graduate and future member of the Westwood Lab, Ben Collison, joined Dr. Alana Westwood in Vancouver, British Columbia from May 4 – 7 to attend the International Association of Impact Assessment Conference (IAIA 22) alongside hundreds of impact assessment specialists from around the world. The conference was hosted by the BC Environmental Assessment Office with many staff practitioners and policy-makers in attendance. Ben presented his newly published research article in the open-access science journal FACETS (with co-authors Patrick Reid, Hannah Dvorski, Mauricio Lopez, Alana Westwood, and Nikki Skuce) that exposed a worrisome potential loophole in BC’s environmental assessment (EA) laws, allowing companies to change their development projects after receiving environmental assessment approval through a process known as ‘amendments.’ 

Last week, the paper was covered by over 60 media outlets, including The Globe and Mail and CBC News. Ben, Alana, and the other co-authors remain hopeful that bringing this issue to light through journal publication, media coverage, and recent meetings with recommendations to the BC Environmental Assessment Office will create positive policy changes to help reduce environmental impacts from large development projects in BC and elsewhere.  

Citation: Collison, B. R., Reid, P. A., Dvorski, H., Lopez, M. J., Westwood, A. R., & Skuce, N. (2022). Undermining environmental assessment laws: post-assessment amendments for mines in British Columbia, Canada, and potential impacts on water resources. FACETS, 7(1), 611-638. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2021-0106. 

Lamenting the loss of the Acadian forest that I never got to know: Riley Scanlan shares her opinion

Riley, member of the Westwood Lab and student in the Master of Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, submitted an opinion letter to the SaltWire to share her perspectives on old-growth forest in Nova Scotia. In the article she expresses how different her experience on the forest is in comparison to her mentors’ experience a few decades ago, and she shares her feelings about the current state of the Acadian forest:

“The more I learn about the Wabana’ki forest — known to many as the Acadian forest — the more I mourn my lost opportunity to learn from and experience expansive, intact forest ecosystems. The Mi’kmaq have sustainably stewarded these lands for thousands of years and show it is indeed possible to do so today.”

Biodiversity, future, and extinction: Alana Westwood comments on the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity report

More than 50 researchers from 23 countries collaborated in the report, which highlights that countries must act as soon as possible to allow global biodiversity to be recovered. The document presents an updated assessment on how the biodiversity milestones and goals of the global biodiversity framework can be achieved. Dr. Alana Westwood (not involved in the report) told The Globe and Mail:

“I certainly think they make a strong case that we need transformative change if we want to live on a planet that we share with other species and not some kind of bio-desolate wasteland like see we showing up in our science-fiction television and movies right now.”

BEAVER DAM MINE PROJECT: DALHOUSIE GRAD STUDENTS’ RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION

In response to Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia’s proposed open-pit gold mine project, Beaver Dam Mine, recommendations for consideration were made for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia, and federal authorities in the ongoing assessment of the Beaver Dam Mine Project. Dalhousie University graduate students from Dr. Alana Westwood’s class ENVI5001 Environmental Assessment put together these recommendations as part of their coursework. Submission summary can be found here on the Impact Assessment of Canada registry.

The recommendations cover:

  • Air quality
  • Surface water quality and quantity
  • Workforce development
  • Community health and safety
  • Species at risk and wildlife
  • Wetlands and lichens
  • Terrain, soil, and parks
  • Spatial boundaries

Cover letter and Recommendations for Consideration can be downloaded here:

Report citation:

Westwood, A., Doucet, T., Fequet, L., Ho, I., MacLean, N., MacNeil, B., Nguyen, P., Sharan, R., Thapar, K., Thurston, E., Vail, C. 2021. Submission on concerns and recommendations related to the proposed Beaver Dam Mine project in Marinette, Nova Scotia. Prepared for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. 110pp.

CBC’S INFORMATION MORNING: INTERVIEW WITH ALANA WESTWOOD DISCUSSING CARBON

The word carbon is everywhere. But chances are, unless you are a scientist, you might not really know what carbon actually is and how it moves around the planet: in air, land and water. Dr. Alana Westwood weighs in and explains what carbon is, what it does for living things and why burning too much of it into the atmosphere can have a detrimental effect on changing the earth’s climate. Listen to the interview here!

DALHOUSIE’S FOREST ECOLOGY & MANAGEMENT GRADUATE CLASS SUBMITS COMMENT ON NOVA SCOTIA’S REVISED OLD FOREST POLICY

Last month, the draft of the revised Old-Growth Forest Policy in Nova Scotia was publicly released with a call-out for public consultation. The draft can be found here.

Dr. Alana Westwood and graduate students from her Ecology & Management course submitted their feedback on the proposed policy update.

Their key recommendations for updating the policy includes:

  • Justifying the 1 ha minimum size for an old growth forest stand.
  • Including Indigenous knowledge and consulting the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.
  • Defining ‘public interest’, which can be used to remove designation for old-growth forest areas.
  • Providing more details about the application of the policy to private lands.
  • Being more specific about recreational and educational opportunities.
  • Adding specific timelines and mechanisms for restoring old growth.
  • Providing monitoring plans and protocols.
  • Thoroughly editing the Revised Policy to ensure it is appealing and accessible to a broad public audience.

Citation:  Westwood, A.R., Baillie, J., Ceci, S., Collison, B., Machat, H., McLean, S., MacNeill, B., Niesink, C., Shaw, J., Sodeinde, O., Suppanz, S., Sutton, P., & Vail, C. (2021). ENVI5050: Special Topics – Forest Ecology & Management class submission to the Government of Nova Scotia regarding the Revised Old Growth Forest Policy. Westwood Lab, Dalhousie University, 11pp. Available at https://westwoodlab.ca/?p=1026 

SCHOOL FOR RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES (SRES) FACULTY CALL FOR AMENDMENTS TO NOVA SCOTIA’S ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS AND CLIMATE CHANGE REDUCTION ACT

Last week, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government introduced Bill 57, the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act into the house. Faculty members of Dalhousie’s SRES, including lab head Dr. Alana Westwood, weighed in on the bill with an open letter.

Although commending and overall supportive of the Bill’s direction and intent, SRES faculty called for an acceleration of targets to meet climate-related goals as well as more transparency in the methods used to meet them. In particular, SRES faculty emphasized the need for clear policy and regulatory incentives to ensure that Nova Scotia Power Inc. is required to meet renewable energy targets given that the 2020 target was not met. The letter urges that in addition to the stated goal of 30% protection of Nova Scotia’s land areas, ecological corridors between protected areas should be prioritized to ensure connectivity and resilience to climate change. The letter also calls for recommendations associated with the Lahey Report on ecological forestry, such as the revised silvicultural guidelines, be enacted immediately. In addition, SRES faculty also encourages stronger provisions related to water protection, modernized environmental assessment legislation, aquaculture, and the circular economy. Although the government passed the bill with almost no new amendments, read the full list of recommendations here.

ALANA WESTWOOD & COLLEAGUES WIN INGSA DIGITAL POSTER AWARD FOR THEIR PROJECT ON KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE IN FORESTRY

Members of the Westwood Lab and colleagues from Carleton University, Natural Resources Canada, McGill University and University of Toronto Scarborough were one of the five to win the Digital Poster award at the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA). Their digital poster, “Understanding knowledge exchange in natural resource management”, was presented by Alana Westwood with support from Matthew Falconer (Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service). Congratulations to the winners!

DALHOUSIE, CARLETON & NRCAN PARTNERSHIP PUBLISH PAPER ON KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE IN FOREST SCIENCE: PART 1

Members of the Westwood Lab and colleagues from Carleton University, Natural Resources Canada, McGill University and University of Toronto Scarborough published systematic map protocol in the open-access journal, Ecological Solutions & Evidence! This paper is Part 1 of a two-part Registered Report that includes the study design of the paper (introduction and methods). This review is looking at how knowledge exchange is achieved between producers and users within the forestry sector.

Citation: Westwood, A.R., Hutchen J., Kapoor, T., Klenk, K., Saturno, J., Wang, J., Falconer, M., & Nguyen, V.M. (2021). A systematic mapping protocol for understanding knowledge exchange in forest science. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, 2(3), e12096. https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12096

WESTWOOD LAB AND EVIDENCE FOR DEMOCRACY WIN SSHRC PARTNERSHIP ENGAGE GRANT TO STUDY INTERFERENCE IN SCIENCE

Can scientists speak?” was a question often asked from 2008-2015, when it was widely documented that federal scientists in Canada were being restricted from communicating with the media. The interference with the ability of scientists to conduct and communicate their work remains a more widespread issue, and one that is likely ongoing in Canada and abroad, especially for those conducting research in the environmental studies and sciences.

It is time for a pulse check on the status of interference in science in Canada.

Dr. Alana Westwood is principal investigator of the now SSHRC-funded project Interference in science: Documenting scientists’ perspectives of their ability to communicate and conduct environmental research in Canada. Collaborators include Dr. Philippe Mongeon (Dalhousie University) and Dr. Don Driscoll (Deakin University), with Evidence for Democracy being the external partner.

The grant application was supported by MES student Manjulika Robertson. She, alongside Honour’s thesis student Samantha Chu, will shed new light on the issue of interference in science and explore the issue from additional lenses of diversity and inclusion. Find out more about the project here and for updates, follow it on ResearchGate.