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NSERC ResNet

Challenge

A Canadian future of shared health and prosperity will depend on our ability to manage ecosystems and all the services they provide for human well-being now and in the future. In working landscapes—land actively used for the production of resources such as food, fish, energy and forest products—the focus has typically been on the cheap, reliable and efficient production of individual ecosystem services (ES) such as food, energy or timber. However, these efforts often overlook the fact that landscapes simultaneously produce multiple ES that interact in complex, dynamic ways, leading to increases in a few services (e.g., food, timber, energy) at the cost of declines in many other services (e.g., flood control, recreation, carbon storage), which we call trade-offs. Reaching a consensus about how to provide for present and future human ES needs equitably while safeguarding sustainable ecosystems for the future requires evidence-based management strategies and a scalable natural resource science that embraces the complexity of social-ecological systems. Surprisingly, the data and knowledge needed for such evidence-based management of working landscapes has remained out of reach.

NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modelling and managing Canadian ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience unites a broad community of scholars and resource managers from across academic, government, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and industry sectors to identify paths for sustainable landscape management that ensure biologically diverse, resilient and adaptive social-ecological systems amid the complexity of competing values, stakeholders and political jurisdictions. The network’s mission is to transform Canada’s capacity to monitor, model and manage its working landscapes and all the ES they provide for long-term well-being and shared prosperity of all Canadians in a way that reflects their fundamental inter-relationships, and thus fundamentally improve integrated decision-making for working landscapes across the country.

Network structure

Scientific and partnership activities of ResNet will occur in a series of six exemplar working landscapes across Canada (Bay of Fundy agriculture dykeland restoration; managing peat and agriculture in Quebec; prairie drainage conflicts; agricultural development in the Northwest Territories; energy development in Alberta and BC; and managing Pacific coastal fisheries). In each landscape, ResNet will launch a series of investigations, co-designed with local industry, government, NGO and Indigenous partners, and other stakeholders, into the provision, modelling and governance of multiple ES.
    
ResNet also features three themes, in which scientists, working with theme partners, will apply theory to the data and knowledge generated in the six landscapes to improve the management (theme 1), modeling (theme 2) and monitoring (theme 3) of ES in each landscape. The knowledge generated across landscapes will then be synthesized to produce tools for monitoring, modelling and managing ES beyond these focal landscapes into other working landscapes within Canada and at larger scales.

Altogether, NSERC ResNet brings together 26 co-applicants from 11 universities, 30 collaborators and 17 partner organizations to address important questions about the management and future of Canada’s working landscapes and the critical ecosystem services they provide.

Research objectives

NSERC ResNet aims to improve environmental decision-making in working landscapes across Canada by developing much-needed data, models and knowledge about ES and their management. Through work in the series of six landscapes, integrated through three themes, we will:

  1. Develop ES monitoring systems that account for interactions among services over space and time and lead to the development of a novel scientific understanding of ES trade-offs and synergies in working landscapes. 

  2. Improve system models and ES forecasting by incorporating feedbacks, legacies and other nonlinearities of the complex social-ecological systems.

  3. Build decision-support tools for the multi-functional management of working landscapes, including methods to help stakeholders work together through participatory model building, social network analysis, scenario development and the use of shared theories of change for stakeholder learning.

Outcomes

Together, this network and its research will lead to the development of ESON-C, the Ecosystem Service Observatory Network of Canada. NSERC ResNet will lay the foundations for an ES dashboard that will monitor and gather data on ES provision at multiple scales across Canada.

Contacts

NSERC ResNet’s administrative center is located at McGill University in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec.

Elena Bennett
Principal Investigator
Email: elena.bennett@mcgill.ca

Network Manager
Email: resnet.nrs@mcgill.ca

Website: This link will take you to another Web site http://nsercresnet.ca
Twitter: This link will take you to another Web site @NSERC_ResNet