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2013

 

2013 A Horizon Scan of Environmental Threats to Canadian Biodiversity

(Prof. Anthony Ricciardi, McGill School of Environment & Redpath Museum)

According to extinction risk models, Canada has a large potential for future species
losses, necessitating prompt targeting of biodiversity conservation in Canadian environmental
policy. However, inefficiency in the communication of scientifically derived evidence to policymakers
impedes the implementation of effective biodiversity conservation measures. Our study
aims to bridge gaps between conservation science and action by identifying and investigating
anthropogenic threats to Canadian biodiversity that may emerge or be amplified in the next 50
years.

An Analysis of Models and Guidelines for Limiting Plastic Bag usage in Peru (Life out of Plastics L.O.O.P.)

(Ms. Julia Freeman, Faculty Lecturer, McGill School of Environment)

In Lima, Peru there is excessive distribution and disposal of single-use plastic bags,
contributing to the accumulation of plastic waste that poses a formidable threat to both human
and marine life as well as the integrity of our common environment.


The Peruvian social enterprise, Life out of Plastic (L.O.O.P.), is interested in
spearheading an implementation to curb the use of these products. In an effort to address this
problem, we have classified four types of plastic reducing initiatives that are often used in
combination: state-led taxation, state-led bans, industry-led action, and awareness campaigns.
Ultimately we were interested in answering the question; Based on previous successes and
failures in municipalities around the world, what strategies would be most successful to reduce
the use of single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable alternatives in Lima, Peru? We
hypothesized the combination of a gradual industry-led ban coupled with education campaigns
will be most effective in reducing plastic bag distribution and waste in Lima.

Progressing Towards its Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, 2011-2020

(Ms. Julia Freeman, Faculty Lecturer, McGill School of Environment)

The 2010 Global Biodiversity Outlook produced by the Secretariat of the CBD determined that the failure to meet the 2010 Aichi Targets was largely due to the lack of action to address the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. The following research looks to answer the question: How are per capita consumption patterns, a known underlying driver of biodiversity loss, being outlined in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and Subnational Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (SBSAPs) and how can they be more effectively addressed to reach the Aichi 2020 Targets?

Ecosystem Management and Invasive Species (C. maenas) (Part I)

(Prof. Brian Leung, McGill School of Environment & Department of Biology)

The aim of this research is to provide the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) with an assessment quantifying the social, ecological, and economic repercussions of Carcinus maenas on both market and non-­‐market values in Prince Edward Island (PEI). A cost-­‐benefit analysis was conducted with regards to three specific aims: i) to identify different market and non-­‐market effects of green crabs, ii) where possible, to quantify components of socio-­‐economic effects, and iii) to determine the level of green crab control that best mitigate the costs.

Ecosystem Management and Invasive Species (C. maenas) (Part II)

(Prof. Brian Leung, McGill School of Environment & Department of Biology)

This document provides background information on the biological and ecological dynamics of the green crab in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the impacts the invasive species is having on the local economy, and various management strategies under discussion. It then describes our approach to examining the potential for commercialization of the green crab as an adaptation method, and provides the DFO with the necessary information and guidelines for establishing a commercial fishery.

Re-Wilding the Mile End

(Prof. Gregory Mikkelson, McGill School of Environment & Department of Philosophy)

This study focuses on the relative synergies and tradeoffs between the natural and cultural dimensions of urban wildscapes, particularly in Le Champ des Possibles. In other words, to what degree are biodiversity and community involvement symbiotic, and to what degree are these aims mutually exclusive? To investigate these proposistions, we engaged in a variety of research methods, including administering surveys, interviewing experts in the field, and looking at pre-existing ecological data collected by Les Amis du CdP.

Vermont vs. Tar Sand: Supply and Demand

(Prof. Gregory Mikkelson, McGill School of Environment & Department of Philosophy)

Our client, 350VT, recruited this group to research and come up with recommendations based on two of their organization’s goals: stopping the reversal of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline (PMPL) and decreasing transport-derived ecological impact. Our research therefore consisted of a two-pronged approach in attempt to answer our two research questions: 1. What can be understood from corporate and government plans regarding the reversal of the PMPL to raise public awareness about this issue? 2. What can Vermont learn from successful rural public transportation programs to improve existing infrastructure in order to reduce transport-derived ecological impact?

Food Waste and Composting at McGill University

(Mr. George McCourt, Faculty Lecturer, McGill School of Environment)

Waste management is a growing problem in the Canadian province of Quebec. There is a decreasing trend in the availability of landfill space, while the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emitted from these sites cause more problems every day. In an attempt to address these issues, the provincial government of Quebec recently created legislation to impose limitations on how much organic waste municipalities are permitted to send to landfill. These restrictions apply to institutions as well, including McGill University. As such, in an effort to reduce the GHG emissions from McGill’s food providers, this project aims to restructure the current composting system on the McGill University downtown campus. While there is currently some composting infrastructure employed by McGill Food and Dining Services (MFDS), as well as several independent vendors, it is inadequate to meet the provincial organic waste diversion goals. As such, this report will present recommendations for maximized diversion of McGill food waste, from landfills to composting, and back into the soil.

Improvement of Services for the Gault Nature Reserve at Mont Saint-Hilaire

(Prof. Jeffrey Cardille, McGill School of Environment & Department of Natural Resource Sciences)

The purpose of this study was to gather information about the habits and preferences of visitors at the Mont Saint-Hilaire nature park in southwestern Quebec. The visitation rate of the park has approximately doubled in the past decade, and we were tasked with gathering data on how the park management should accommodate this increase in visitation. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to gather data from visitors during October and November 2013, in a survey containing open-ended and closed-ended questions.

Risks and Vulnerabilities to Food Security in Two Ecoregions (Dryland and Fluvial) in India

(Prof. Raja Sengupta, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

Food security is an ongoing issue in India, which will likely be exacerbated by future climate change and population growth. This paper aims to determine the current and future stressors to food security in the fluvial agro-ecosystem of Assam and the dryland agro-ecosystem of Maharashtra. This study identifies biophysical stressors to food security, such as increased temperatures and variability in rainfall patterns, as well as socio-political factors including the lack of access to market linkages among farmers in Maharashtra, poor nutritional quality in Assam, insufficient knowledge on water management tools across regions, and post-harvest cropping practices among farmers that further exacerbate the issue. Improved water distribution systems and an overhauled targeted distribution system are discussed as suggestions for moving forward.

GIS-Analysis of Potential Habitats for Aquatic Turtles

(Prof. Raja Sengupta, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

The Lake of Two Mountains region is home to multiple species of vulnerable freshwater turtles identified as requiring conservation action. Previous studies have used Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis to map habitat suitability based on information about a species' preferences. Applying this approach to turtle nesting sites provides knowledge about turtles during a highly vulnerable stage of life. Our purpose was to develop a model to determine these potential nesting sites for five native turtle species in the Lake of Two Mountains region: common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina); painted turtle (Chrysemys picta); Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii); northern map turtle (Graptemys geographica), and the common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus).