$4 million in funding announced for UAlberta biodiversity conservation chair program

Science and ALES partner with COSIA and Ab Government to address biodiversity challenges related to the energy sector.

20 November 2013


Nov. 20, 2013 (Edmonton) - The University of Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chairs program received $4 million in funding to create two chairs that will focus on biodiversity challenges related to the energy sector, it announced today. The research positions were awarded to internationally renowned ecologist Stan Boutin, an expert in declining woodland caribou and a founder of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, and Scott Nielsen, conservation biologist.

Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES), Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions (AI-Bio) and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) as well as the U of A's faculties of Science and Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences each contributed to the program, which is being funded for five years.

"Along with other partners, we are proud to play a leadership role in creating the Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chairs Program. These chairs are building understanding in areas that lie at the heart of COSIA's mission to deliver accelerated environmental performance in the oil sands through collaboration and innovation," said Dr. Dan Wicklum, Chief Executive, COSIA

The Alberta Biodiversity Conservation chairs will focus on key biodiversity challenges related to the energy sector and be the hub of a broad-based research program that will extend the province's research and innovation network. Their goal will be to:

  • Understand cause-and-effect relationships between industrial developments and biodiversity,
  • Developing landscape-management strategies to support biodiversity conservation, and
  • Develop strategies and tools for restoring biodiversity and facilitating ecosystem recovery

"The biodiversity conservation research chairs will ensure that the research results and scientific knowledge are quickly and effectively used to inform management strategies and policy recommendations to best manage our provincial species and landscapes as a whole," said Dr. Eddy Isaacs, CEO of Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions.

There are unprecedented challenges on the Alberta landscape and finding solutions is important for sustaining our international reputation and our biodiversity.

"Indeed, challenges arise from Alberta's many different industries working on the same landscape," said Dr. Stan Blade, Chief Executive Officer of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions. "With the program's strong ties to industry, researchers in the Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chairs program can help companies make informed land management decisions and enhance industry's environmental social license to operate."

"The Alberta Biodiversity Conservation chairs program is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration and cooperation that leads to innovative solutions in an area that is particularly important to Alberta and Albertans," said Dr. Lorne Babiuk, University of Alberta's vice-president (research). "We are delighted to partner with COSIA, Alberta Innovates and NSERC to expand Alberta's research capacity, develop the next generation of talent in biodiversity conservation and provide solutions to one of our province's important challenges."

More about Stan Boutin's research.

More about Scott Nielsen's research.