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Hope and Agency in Uncertain Times

A sustainability across disciplines conference

March 11-15, 2024; Concordia University

This conference will provide the basis for a crucial and timely trans-disciplinary conversation and action for a path forward in this time of crisis. It will feature the work and perspectives of Concordia faculty and student researchers in sustainability through panels, discussion, and much more. Conference events will be held on both campuses, open to the entire Concordia community and to the public free of charge.

Schedule of events:

Note that recordings of each individual event can be accessed by clicking on the arrow to the right of the each event

In-person at 4th Space (SGW campus) or online.

This installation intricately navigates the complexities of the fossil fuel clothing industry, weaving together threads of social justice, peace and praxis. Through deliberate choices in repurposed materials, the artwork serves as a visual catalyst for sustainable practices, challenging traditional norms in the fashion landscape. It acts as a mirror, prompting reflection on the environmental and ethical nuances concealed within the fabrics we wear. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, “Reclaimed Weaves” is a praxis-an embodiment of theory and action-urging viewers to reconsider their consumer roles. It beckons a shift towards sustainable choices, advocating for social justice and peace, one conscientious thread at a time. This textile installation is a powerful call to action, envisioning a future where intentional decisions reshape the fabric of the fossil fuel clothing industry towards a more just, peaceful and sustainable reality. This installation will be presented by its creators as part of the 10:30 AM session.

In this session, students will present succinct arguments related to sustainability and environmental science / studies, with an eye to providing scientifically valid reasons for hope. Join us for 3-minute thesis-style presentations on a wide variety of cutting-edge topics. This interdisciplinary session includes unedrgraduate and graduate students from the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Departments of Biology; Sociology and Anthropology; and Geography, Planning and Environment.

Today the Acadian forest is located in New Brunswick and northern New England. It was created with the arrival of Picea rubens (red spruce), 2000 years ago. Previous palynological researchers only studied the history of the New Brunswick Acadian forest and its predecessors using lake and peat bog cores at a coarse temporal of at most 3 samples per millennium. Additionally, there has been little pollen research and no charcoal research done in New Brunswick. Hence, the history of Acadian forest in New Brunswick at a high-temporal resolution is unknown. Our research, derived from a core from Fish Lake, New Brunswick (46° 8'38.32"N, 66°53'12.64"W), just outside Fredericton at the border between the ecoregions of Valley Lowlands and Central Uplands, seeks to provide a high-resolution record of the recent Acadian forest. Our core spans the last 1,100 years. We find a distinct Medieval Warm Period (1035 AD-1445 AD) characterized by Betula and Fagus. We also find a distinct Little Ice Age (1535 AD-1870 AD) characterized by increases in Pinus and declines in Betula and Fagus. The iconic P. rubens of the Acadian forest has been present throughout the last millennium, as has Pinus strobus. Poaceae pollen, an indicator of disturbance, increases at coretop due to the landscape disturbance caused by European land-use. Even though the Acadian forest is noted for its damp conditions, fire has been present at Fish Lake throughout the last millennium. This project will provide a long-term baseline history of the Acadian forest, a valuable tool for more sustainable land management.

Over the past 15 years, Anishnabe communities in La Verendrye Park Wildlife Reserve have
noted a decline in the local moose population, which is an important source of traditional food for the Anishnabe people. A recent report published by the Anishnabe Moose Committee (AMC) attributes this decline to forestry and hunting activities. This situation undermines Anishnabe rights to traditional culture, food sovereignty, and self-governance. In 2020, community members set up road blockades to relieve pressure on the moose by preventing settler hunters and forestry personnel from entering the park, leading to a 2-year moratorium on sport hunting in the park. The AMC is now calling for a renewal of the moratorium, which expired in 2023. In collaboration with the AMC and Research for the Front Lines, this project is guided by a community-led research model and designed to support the goals of the AMC. The project will explore the impacts of provincial policy-making practices on Anishnabe rights and moose wellbeing in La Verendrye Park. Using the methods of Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis and semi-structured interviews with provincial policymakers, I will assess the political motivations and sources of knowledge used to support policies concerning forestry and hunting. I will then discuss my findings in relation to successful examples of Indigenous-led policy-making and wildlife management to identify opportunities for implementation in so-called Quebec. As a settler student, I aim to contribute to the process of “unsettling” the settler-colonial ontologies behind environmental policy in the interest of deconstructing settler-colonial relations of power in so-called Canada.

The misconception that North America’s landscapes were untouched by humans has perpetrated a romanticization of nature as a “pristine wilderness” that has had little agency from human hands. Indigenous communities must be legally recognized and supported in environmental conservation initiatives to empower a sustainable future globally. In addition, acknowledgement of Indigenous communities’ vast history and relationship to the land is the first step to validating the destructive colonial effects on Indigenous populations.

Scientific communication is the means by which scientific information is transmitted to the public. Today, the participation of the entire human population is required to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Our consumption habits and way of living are considerably increasing the negative effects of environmental perturbations, and without public participation, the chance to attain the objectives of Net Zero Emissions by 2050 is impossible. The responsibility for engaging in effective scientific communication does not really rest solely in scientists' hands however, as scientific information is spread by many stakeholders, such as the media and politicians. Other communicators of science often lack scientific expertise or have an interest in communicating a particular message for their own benefit. Here, I present the argument that science communication will be improved by embracing the social sciences, especially when communicating about topics like climate change and conservation. I suggest a new approach to science communication, one that emphasizes the need to include and recognize how social sciences enhance communication and individual efforts for climate change mitigation. Today, scientific communication around climate change often seems to be based on fear, yet many people do not fully understand why or what they can do to mitigate the effects of climate change. Shifting towards reclaiming control of scientific information could provide hope and encourage people to take sustainable actions in their daily lives. If natural scientists engage with social sciences, it will aid in developing useful discourse, particularly with the incorporation of knowledge from fields like psychology and sociology. Lastly, research shows that valuing people's participation in conservation measures will increase the effectiveness of the conservation actions. Current scientific communication is not sufficiently effective and efficient, and the role of social sciences in conservation and climate change mitigation should be enhanced and further investigated.

The "Balcony Garden Project" is hosted by the Ziter Urban Landscape Ecology Lab at Concordia University, aimed at testing the potential of using balconies for urban wildlife conservation. As urban areas are dense, finding space to green and increase habitat and resources for nature are difficult. It is therefore important to be able to utilize small spaces such as balconies for greening, and even biodiversity conservation. The project also opens up opportunities for citizens to participate in research in promoting local urban biodiversity from their own home.

This talk emphasizes the pivotal role of learning in the discourse on climate change. Learning serves a dual purpose: fostering hope by revealing solutions to mitigate greenhouse gases and enabling agencies to implement interventions for environmental preservation. Learning manifests through various means such as knowledge exchange and socialization, occurring in diverse settings from coffee shops to educational institutions. It catalyzes a network of impactful change, as Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist, wisely noted: "If there was nothing we could do about climate change, giving up would be a logical response." Let’s transform the world through learning.

Eco-anxiety is an increasingly prevalent emotion faced by many. In my presentation, I will argue that engaging in climate action acts as an effective tool for coping with eco-anxiety because doing so fosters empowerment, hope, and agency. However, how do we bridge the gap from anxiety to action? I will argue that community-building environments like support groups, community organizations, and “climate cafes” can be successful ways to build community, process feelings, and find sustainable ways to get and stay involved in climate action.

“Les Jardins Sahaka,” is dedicated to cultivating, donating, and selling Asian vegetable and herb seedlings, and is an initiative of the Super Boat People, predominantly managed by Montrealers of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese (CLV) descent. Focused on imparting traditional horticultural skills, the project motivates CLV youth to reconnect with their cultural roots while inspiring Montrealers of diverse backgrounds to cultivate and cook these crops. Benefits encompass providing access to nutritious food, promoting healthy lifestyles, engaging citizens in enhancing living spaces, fostering social connections, and contributing to local biodiversity while addressing heat islands; a holistic endeavour with far-reaching positive impacts.

To address food insecurity in Northern Manitoba and to reach the sustainable second goal of "Zero Hunger," a group of people, communities, and organizations created a non-profit organization called "The Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative" (NMFCCC). Based on the principles of social and solidarity economy, this organization prioritizes community needs and well-being. NMFCCC's strategies to fight food insecurity include various initiatives such as community gardens, greenhouses, cooperatives, communal kitchens, school gardens, community-based food programs, and food markets. In addition to making sure that everyone has enough food to eat, these efforts help in achieving other sustainable development goals.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where oceanic debris accumulates due to ongoing global pollution, embodies complex challenges to environmental management. This vast accumulation of plastic debris disrupts marine ecosystems, threatening biodiversity and human health. While primarily stemming from land-based activities, the issue requires multi-level intervention, involving stakeholders from governments and non-profit organizations. One of the main actors is The Ocean Cleanup – their mission is to create innovative technologies that aid in the reduction of ocean debris. Collaborative efforts are essential to mitigate the Patch's expansion and preserve oceanic health, emphasizing the urgent need for sustainable solutions.

Urban tree inequity describes the unequal distribution of trees and green spaces, with their associated benefits, within urban areas. Despite the many benefits of urban forests in enhancing the quality of life, inequities persist in canopy coverage, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Many cities are creating tree-planting initiatives, which offer a promising solution to address these inequities. Through proactive measures and community involvement, these initiatives aim to create hope for a more equitable urban environment by providing resources to areas that have been historically underserved.

In the face of ecological destruction, the Aral Sea's desiccation serves as both a dire warning and a beacon of hope for sustainable restoration practices. This presentation investigates the catastrophic environmental and socioeconomic consequences of the sea's shrinkage, which is caused by unsustainable water management. Drawing on recent successful restoration efforts, I argue that strategic, multidisciplinary interventions can not only mitigate environmental damage but also restore ecological balance and community livelihoods. Recent studies highlight the critical role of sustainability science in instilling hope and agency, demonstrating that even the most severe environmental crises can be addressed through collaborative, informed action.

Shifting and melting ice due to climate change has been affecting migratory patterns in beluga whales and therefore risking their lives and impacting feeding habits. Some issues arising include altered behaviour when pursuing prey, belugas becoming trapped in the ice causing them to be more vulnerable to predators, increased stress from longer dives causing lower reproduction rates, and impacts on their natural timing of environmental cues for navigation and migration.

Agroforestry was believed to offer various ecosystem services but there was a lack of sufficient evidence until recently. With the Kyoto Protocol, agroforestry gained attention as a method to sequester carbon, increase biomass production and combat climate change. Current efforts by The Nature Conservancy and partners include the launch of a 5-year project to attract private investments in agroforestry, boosting farmers' incomes and providing environmental benefits like carbon sequestration, soil health, biodiversity, and water quality in the US. I argue that these projects highlight the need to promote agroforestry worldwide.

I will be exploring sustainability through youth-based experiential education, spotlighting programs that promote curiosity and inquisitiveness to encourage hands-on learning. Emphasizing garden-based education, these initiatives challenge the modern food system, inspiring youth to reconnect with the soil and grasp their role in fostering sustainability within climate change. The focus is on cultivating a deeper understanding of the food system, enhancing food literacy, and empowering the younger generation to actively contribute to a more sustainable future.

Increased frequency of extreme flood events resulting from climate change can cause major changes to river channel morphology which becomes an issue for human development. Historically, management methods focused on stabilization to keep rivers in a fixed space and did not consider naturally occurring processes. There is a need for hydrogeomorphological processes to be considered in management projects to increase river resilience and decrease damages. Pushing for more holistic restoration efforts can provide rivers with the space they need to freely move and is a step towards making us more resilient in the face of climate change.

This session will end with a brief introduction to the exhibit on display in the space. “Reclaimed Weaves” intricately navigates the complexities’ of the fossil fuel clothing industry, weaving together threads of social justice, peace and praxis. Through deliberate choices in repurposed materials, the artwork serves as a visual catalyst for sustainable practices, challenging traditional norms in the fashion landscape. It acts as a mirror, prompting reflection on the environmental and ethical nuances concealed within the fabrics we wear. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, “Reclaimed Weaves” is a praxis-an embodiment of theory and action-urging viewers to reconsider their consumer roles. It beckons a shift towards sustainable choices, advocating for social justice and peace, one conscientious thread at a time. This textile installation is a powerful call to action, envisioning a future where intentional decisions reshape the fabric of the fossil fuel clothing industry towards a more just, peaceful and sustainable reality.

In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn about traditional Japanese dying and clothing design practices.

In these times of crisis, many of us have days when it's difficult to find hope. In this session, panelists will present and discuss readings that bring them hope and inspire them to action in these times.

In-person at 4th Space (SGW campus) or online

Developing low-cost energy storage is necessary to increase the adoption of intermittent power sources such as wind and solar energy which rarely match the demands of the electricity market. This presentation provides a brief overview of the current status and trends in renewable energy and go into more detail about the battery technologies being proposed to address the needs for grid storage. Flow batteries in particular have been recognized as a promising technology for this application due to their scalability and adaptability. The current state of the art in flow battery research is focused on the development of synthetic water-based electrolytes that are not limited by natural resource constraints, thereby providing additional hope for the widespread adoption of renewable energy.

About the speaker:

Marc-Antoni Goulet is a member of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at Concordia, where his current research focuses on flow batteries for grid scale electricity storage to increase the distribution of intermittent renewable energy such as wind and solar. He also looks for ways of electrochemically converting CO2 to value added products and creating better electrochemical sensors for chemical analysis.

What is the nature of encounters of humans with other than humans in an urban setting? Do they most often exist as conflict, if so, what is the source of this conflict? Can cities serve as a zone in which humans can learn about other animals, and as urbanization increases, can cities be a sustainable and non-anthropocentric place?

The idealization of community gardens is a phenomenon that seems innocuous yet creates harmful consequences for many vulnerable populations around Montreal. On the surface, these gardens generate a list of benefits for their participants: community, education, fraternization, physical activity, reconnection with nature, food security, creation and maintenance of green spaces. The reality is that these advantages are only perceived and often disconnected from the lived experience of many aspiring community gardeners. In order to reap a few of these benefits, honest and open discussions on ethical and cultural socialization practices in community gardens are essential. Raising awareness over the implications of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging concerns is essential to creating informed and balanced green spaces.

The impacts of the climate crisis on animal agricultural production globally has engendered an increasing interest in how to respond to and mitigate future catastrophes. Disaster management literature suggests in order to do this we must first understand the risks and impacts of such disasters. In this presentation I will outline the key risks and impacts of the 2021 Abbortsford Floods in the Fraser Valley Regional District, the unceded lands of the Stó:lō people in British Colombia. The history of agriculture in this area is rooted in capitalist and settler-colonialism models of agriculture that prioritized expansion and growth rather than sustainability or stewardship that endure today. In the 1920s the Sumas Lake was drained and isolated from nearby rivers, developing what is today one of the most economically productive agricultural regions in Canada. The area is not unfamiliar with floods with flooding happening in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1990s however what has changed is the scale of agriculture. Abbotsford region is ranked Canada’s largest agricultural town, generating over $1 billion annually in on-farm gate sales. It is this same area that in the past 3 years has signalled the climate crisis through fires, floods, and heat raising alarming animal welfare issues including the death of millions of animals as well as having grave environmental consequences. In this presentation, I will focus on the experiences of the community both human and nonhuman animals looking at conditions before the flood, during the flood, and after. I will conclude by discussing the provinces' “Building Back Better” policy that, as I will show fails to seriously grapple with the risks of settler-colonial capitalist agricultural practices and the climate crisis.

Balsa is becoming a critical resource for the renewable energy transition. Yet, it's production is having facing issues as it's affecting indigenous people of the Amazon. As such, can plantations come into mind to solve this issue, but face their own problems. So how can Ecuador, the world's largest producer of Balsa play a role in it's sustainable production.

Around the world, particularly in Latin America, governments often confiscate nonhuman primates, such as capuchin monkeys, that are being kept illegally as pets, in entertainment, or that have been orphaned due to poaching. The rehabilitation and reintroduction process offers a second chance at life for captive individuals and can be a valuable tool to maintain or restore genetic, species, ecosystem and functional diversity.  In 2023, MG spent five months studying the rehabilitation and reintroduction of bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in the Brazilian Caatinga forest biome, focusing on animal personality and stereotypic behaviour in correlation with release success. The process from rehabilitation to reintroduction is a complicated task involving countless stakeholders, last minute changes and uncertainty. Here, we present a case example of the rehabilitation and reintroduction process, beginning at a government-run rescue centre in a major city, conducting behavioural focal samples and rehabilitation training with ten monkeys. We review the steps involved, and discuss some challenges associated with finding an appropriate release site, negotiating with stakeholders, building a soft-release enclosure, navigating community engagement, transporting and releasing monkeys, and conducting post-release monitoring. Finally, we will make comparisons with other published release cases from the literature and provide suggestions for future releases. This research will advance knowledge in the fields of animal behaviour, animal personality, and rehabilitation and release of captive primates, and will have direct applied conservation benefits for the capuchins in the Caatinga region of Brazil.

As digital technology continues to impact everyday life, it is important to build awareness of the opportunities and risks that the digital age poses to social and environmental systems.  Sustainability in the Digital Age is a Concordia think tank that works to build awareness on digital sustainability and the LEADS program is a graduate training experience about science leadership in a digitally enabled global context. This panel will invite speakers to explore how digital transformations are impacting everyday human interactions and what that means for environmental sustainability. From music to social media, researchers on campus are asking questions like;, How can the arts influence the sustainability of a community and how does digital innovation mediate that interaction? How can we deal with bias in AI and detect sentiment, emotion and offense in social media?  Come and learn about these initiatives and join the in-person Q&A. 

In this session, Elizabeth Miller engages researchers, community groups, and members of the audience in a conversation about how to support and participate in local conservation. Carly Ziter will introduce a trans-disciplinary research project with community partners on biodiversity, climate resilience, and social inclusion in Montreal: the Falaise St-Jacques, the Technoparc wetlands, the Champ des Possibles, and the Parc-Nature MHM. Other members of the research team include Amy Poteete; Emma Despland, Rebecca Tittler, Karen Fisher Favret, and a range of community partners and residents. This introduction will be followed by a conversation with representatives of community partners involved in the project: Kiho Hazelton-Cook of Les Amis du Champ des Possibles, Roger Jochym of Sauvons la Falaise, Anaïs Houde of Mobilisation 6600, Katherine Collin of TechnoparcOiseaux, and David Gamper of UrbaNature Éducation.  

Elizabeth Miller engagera des, des groupes communautaires, et des membres du public dans une conversation sur les manières de soutenir et s’impliquer dans la conservation locale. Carly Ziter introduira un projet de recherche interdisciplinaire avec des partenaires communautaires sur la biodiversité, la résilience climatique, et l’inclusion sociale dans quatre espaces verts à Montréal : la Falaise St-Jacques, les milieux humides du Technoparc, le Champ des Possibles, et le Parc-Nature MHM. L’équipe de recherche comprend aussi Amy Poteete, Emma Despland, Rebecca Tittler, Karen Fisher Favret, et un éventail de groupes communautaires et de résidents impliqués. Une conversation s’ensuivera, entre des repré des partenaires communautaires du projet : Kiho Hazelton-Cook des Amis du Champ des Possibles, Roger Jochym de Sauvons la Falaise, Anaïs Houde de Mobilisation 6600, Katherine Collin du TechnoparcOiseaux, and David Gamper d’UrbaNature Éducation.

In-person at 4th Space (SGW campus) or online.

As we know, the environmental impact of plastic due to durability and decomposition resistance poses significant challenges. The main problem with plastic is its life cycle. This installation explores different strategies for tackling this environmental issue by examining simple methods for recycling plastic waste with CP3, Concordia’s Precious Plastic Project.  The installation includes 3D printing from plastic waste courtesy of CP3 and a short film chronicling the transformation of a large bin through various recycling steps, culminating in the creation of the final product. The exhibit will be discussed by creators Antoine Léger and Pramila Choudhary during the 11 AM Issues in climate change session.


Optimism is crucial to facing the current environmental issues; this workshop will foster this attitude within the Concordia community by providing participants with a creative outlet when it comes to reacting to climate news. With the provided or researched positive articles and inspiring quotes, participants will visually represent the feelings that arise surrounding the climate with the materials provided.

Denial is a challenging state of mind to digest. It’s a fortress we build to protect the roots of our worldview. A prickly layer, difficult to shake and shed. In the discourse about global warming, vested interests have cleverly stoked fears about societal change. They have characterised concern about climate change as a threat to essential aspects of the modern identity, successfully fostering a sizable population that strongly identifies with a denial of human-induced climate change. As we face the urgent need for a widespread uptake of climate solutions and a sturdy democracy, we must call these skeptics in. Arguably the first step is to lead with compassion and admit their fear is legitimate. The average “climate denier” is a lost soul standing in the eye of a storm, wound up by a swirling clash between a past based on fossil fuels, combustion and excess against a future based on renewable energy, efficiency and clean(er) tech. Change is scary. Drawing from personal anecdotes, literature and journalism, we will explore the evolving denial of the climate emergency and we will attempt to imagine a world where more and more skeptics are invited into a world based on sustainability, agency, science and justice.

The environmental impact of plastic due to durability and decomposition resistance poses significant challenges. The main problem with plastic is its life cycle. This presentation explores different strategies for tackling this environmental issue by examining simple methods for recycling plastic waste with CP3, Concordia’s Precious Plastic Project. 

In this session, Katja Neves and Jochen Jaeger will discuss the crucial role of transdisciplinary research in addressing the current sustainability crises and the challenges that this type of research is facing.

A Sustainability Ambassador project to improve biodiversity literacy around Concordia, advocate for an overlooked underdog, and ameliorate the campus that we occupy.

Bats are a keystone species; important indicators of the health of an ecosystem. They are sensitive to environmental change. They can play an important role in controlling insect populations, pollination, and they are the only mammals that can fly! However, do you know they are struggling to live around us in an urban ecosystem even at  both campuses while helping Loyola’s farmers in urban agriculture?

This workshop aims to create dialogue and awareness about bats around Concordia, advocate for an overlooked underdog, and ameliorate the campus that we occupy. This event will give you an opportunity to identify the importance of local bats around concordia and resolve your myths about bats and to identify your collaborative role in bat conservation.The workshop will conduct one information session that will provide general information (types, habitats, life cycle, myths, food source, challenges) about bats in Quebec together with an interactive knowledge testing session in which winners receive an unforgettable gift!

Drawing on several years of community-based research, this talk traces from people’s experiential knowledge of attempting to use gardens for social, environmental and educational purposes– into local policies that shape garden possibilities in urban contexts. Starting in the actual material sites where gardening takes place (a university campus, schools, community organizations, greenspaces, local neighbourhoods, and so on), my findings on the educational, environmental, historical, geographic and political-economic relations suggest that while gardens and garden programming have the potential for community-based learning, increased wellbeing, and ecological awareness, their employment needs to be highly contextualized within critical discussions related to settler-colonialism, neoliberalism, the history and politics of land and water use, and (green) gentrification.

About the speaker:

Mitchell McLarnon is a member of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre and Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Concordia, where his current research focuses on environmental and climate education, community development, gentrification, food security, institutional ethnography, urban political ecology, and participatory visual methods.

In-person ONLY at Frigo Vert,1440 rue Mackay: Climate Emergency Committee 5-year anniversary party (7-9 PM)!

Come celebrate 5 years of this impactful organization. Meet like-minded people and learn more about what they do and how you might be able to get involved. Music, snacks, games, and plenty of information provided. All are welcome!

In-person ONLY at the RF conference centre  (Loyola campus)

Based upon a review of sustainability efforts at other higher learning institutions in Canada, suggestions tailored to further Concordia's own sustainable commitments will be presented.

This presentation explores how Canadian and American media covered the 2023 Canadian forest fires. We focused our research on the mentioning of and connection to climate change, examining how and if the media attributed climate change to the forest fires. Experts believe climate change will continue to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, like forest fires. Thus, our results allow a better understanding of how the Canadian and American media make climate connections and report on extreme events.

The invasive spongy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) is a periodic outbreaker responsible for severe defoliation of hardwood and softwood trees in North America. Understanding aspects of biotic and abiotic factors impacting the survival and population density of Ldd, across a geospatial gradient can provide insight into these outbreaks in its non-native habitat. Between periods of outbreak, Ldd moths maintain lower-density reservoir populations that do not cause as much notable damage to forests. These populations provide a source for future outbreaks but are discreet and challenging to identify. As part of my doctoral work, I explore factors, such as forest composition and historical Ldd densities, that may help predict the locations of low-density populations, in-between outbreaks. I surveyed sites across Quebec in 2023 and hypothesize that there will be: a higher density of Ldd in forest patches with a lower proportion of oak trees; and a lower density of Ldd in historically severe outbreak locations. The ability to identify these variables could facilitate forest management and control practices that may head off an oncoming outbreak.

As the world’s population continues to grow at unprecedented rates, many cities and neighbourhoods are experiencing high rates of urbanization. In an effort to accommodate the people moving into metropolitan centres, infringing onto urban greenspaces is a common avenue employed to build more housing. However, many studies show that spending time outdoors, specifically in green environments, has a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. Due to this, urban greenspace is classified as an environmental “good,” and its scarcity means that certain groups receive less access to it if they are in a minority social standing (i.e., racial minority, low-income, etc.). Since the relatively recent amalgamation of Montreal into 5 distinct geographic sectors, investigation into how this may have impacted Laval makes for an interesting case study. To do this, spatial tools (ArcGIS Pro and GeoDa) were used to examine the relationship between total vegetation (NDVI extracted from LiDAR data) and overall marginalization (adapted from the Canadian Marginalization Index). A large portion of the methodology focused on determining what method of analysis was best suited to the represent the data, and thus many spatial and non-spatial tests were conducted, including an OLS regression, a GWR, a hotspot analysis, and a Moran’s I spatial autocorrelation test. Through trial and error, eight distinct zones showing high-marginalization, low-vegetation clusters were located across the Laval peninsula. Investigating further into the driving forces behind these trends, there were very few designated greenspaces within them and many had very little canopy cover offered by street trees. Interestingly, a common theme was the large number of vacant lots in these regions that could potentially be reworked into parks or greenspaces. As Laval continues to expand, it is important to be constantly aware of inequity that may be growing as access to environmental services becomes increasingly limited with a growing population.

This talk will examine the issue of animal agency as it is treated in the field of critical animal studies and critical animal pedagogies. The focus will be on the fundamental repression across most university disciplines, underlying academic discourses, that despite contemporary understandings coming out of cognitive ethology, there are politico-ontological reasons for maintaining various levels of violence (particularly 'epistemic violence' in the case of higher education) against animals, whereby hierarchical anthropocentrism is entrenched through the recoding of violence as 'peace'. Following a Derridean reading of humanism and animality, I argue for the necessity of taking animal agency and resistance seriously, given how such a turn can deconstruct symbolic economies of sacrifice (the "non-criminal-putting-to-death") at the foundation of our social and political relations (not only with non-human life).  

Do wildlife crossing structures mitigate the barrier effect of roads on wildlife movement and what is the current evidence? This talk presents the results of an extensive literature review and synthesis addressing this question. We investigated whether wildlife passages prevented an expected decline in cross-road movement, restored movement to pre-construction conditions, or improved movement relative to no action. In an analysis of 313 studies, only 14% evaluated whether wildlife crossing structures resulted in a change in animal movement across roads. We identified critical problems in many existing studies, especially the lack of benchmarks (pre-road, pre-mitigation, or control data) and the use of biased comparisons. Wildlife crossing structures allowed cross-road movement in 98% of data sets. They improved movement in about 60%. In contrast, the decline of wildlife movement was prevented in fewer than 40% of cases. For most structure types and species groups, there was still insufficient evidence to draw generalised conclusions. The evidence to date suggests that wildlife crossing structures can mitigate the barrier effect of roads on wildlife movement, but they rarely completely mitigate the barrier effect. In many cases, the structures have been poorly implemented or poorly evaluated. The most supported measures are the addition of ledges and vegetation cover to increase movement for small mammals; underpasses to prevent the decline in movement of ungulates following road construction; and improving road-crossing for arboreal mammals using canopy bridges and vegetated medians. We strongly recommend that future crossing structures closely adhere to species-specific, best practice guidelines to improve implementation and be paired with a thorough evaluation that includes benchmark comparisons, particularly for structure types and species that need more evidence (e.g., amphibians, reptiles, birds, invertebrates, and overpasses). (Soanes et al. 2024, Journal of Applied Ecology).

Wildlife vehicle collisions on roads pose a major threat to biodiversity. Wildlife fencing can prevent animals from accessing a road and reduces road mortality significantly. However, fences that are too short generate a fence-end effect, where collision locations are shifted towards the fence ends. We created an individual-based model to study the fence-end effect and predict the effectiveness of fences at preventing road encounters based on fence length, home range size, and movement distances. We parameterized the model with wood turtle movement distances and compared 9 different movement profiles with varying fence-following distances. Fences shorter than the home range diameter of 600 m ranged from 0-69% effective, and effectiveness dropped proportionately to the animals’ fence-following distance. A mathematical function was created to predict effectiveness for fences of any length longer than the home range diameter. At 3000 m, fences ranged from 84-94% effective, proportionately related to the fence-following distance. Because of the fence-end effect, fences with an open end can approach but never reach 100% effectiveness. For wood turtles, we recommend a minimum length of 300 m (the home range radius) on either side of the location where turtles are present to account for home ranges centered close to the fence ends. Empirical data are needed to describe and quantify how animals behave when encountering a fence, as this behavior can significantly influence a fence’s effectiveness. Such data can help create species-specific models, inform effective fence lengths, and reduce mortality associated with the fence-end effect.

Roads act as wildlife barriers, cause road mortality, and habitat loss, reduce habitat quality, and decrease population persistence probability for many species. Wildlife can overcome the barrier effect by using existing crossing structures such as water culverts, but may be deterred by the presence of other species. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are omnipresent in our study area and frequently observed in three monitored structures (M1, M2, B1). We investigated potential avoidance behaviour by other mammals toward raccoons. We recorded which species used each structure and at what frequencies (by season and throughout the observation period) and assessed the relationships between the occurrences of raccoons and other mammal species. We also examined whether mammals as individuals of three body-size categories (small, medium, large) followed raccoons within the same amount of time as when following an individual of the same body-size category. Observing potential avoidance behaviour would indicate that conservation efforts reliant on existing crossing structures may be counteracted by the ubiquitous presence of raccoons. No avoidance behaviour was observed based on weekly data. Rather, raccoon occurrences were positively associated with occurrences of other mammal species. Similarly, no avoidance behaviour from any mammal body-size category was observed based on hourly data, except for the medium body-size category at site M1 where the data indicated that individuals in this category took longer to follow raccoons than to follow each other (p < 0.05). This singular statistically significant result nevertheless warrants cautious consideration. Nonetheless, we advise studies assessing the effectiveness of existing crossing structures to also investigate species interactions.

12:15-1:30 PM: Lunch in RF 120

Recognizing that academics are also humans with interests, values, and biases, in this panel discussion, Emma Despland, Amy Poteete, Rebecca Tittler, and Nicole Yu will discuss their experiences, lessons learned, and ongoing challenges as academics doing applied work with community, government, and industry partners. Particular emphasis will be put on the role of academics as ordinary citizens with values, on the one hand, and as researchers and pedagogues within academic institutions, on the other.

This project aims to evaluate the extent to which transportation policies in North America (Canada and the U.S.A) address the issue of biodiversity conservation. The project is motivated by the 30th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty that commits its parties to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity. The project hypothesizes that transportation agencies in North America have begun incorporating biodiversity conservation into their mandates, in accordance with the CBD. To test this hypothesis, the project will conduct a comparative analysis of transportation policies and documents in North America and, eventually, selected European countries (Switzerland, Germany, France, and The Netherlands), which are known for their advanced environmental standards. The project will also collect qualitative data from interviews and surveys with transportation officials and experts, to gain insights into the challenges and opportunities for biodiversity conservation in the transportation sector. The project will contribute to the literature on environmental policy and governance, and provide recommendations for enhancing the integration of biodiversity conservation into transportation planning and management.

As global climate change continues to impact many facets of the environment and society today, never has it been more important to vastly improve the systems in place that are meant to protect and foster the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants. Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) is a formal process that analyzes and assesses proposed developments that may have potential negative impacts on biophysical, cultural, social, and health-related components as well as Indigenous rights extending beyond project-level assessments. This research analyzes the current challenges and complexities inherent in CEA within the Canadian context, highlighting the necessity for enhanced legislative frameworks and decision-making processes. Despite the mandatory integration of CEA in Canadian environmental assessment (EA) laws, there are persistent inconsistences in its application. Through a comparative review using methods developed by Pavlyuk et al. (2017) about uncertainty disclosure, this study aims to identify gaps and areas for improvement in existing legislation, regulations, and guidelines regarding CEA at the provincial and federal levels. The review seeks to answer the following questions relative to the methods used: What are the requirements for conducting a CEA in legislation, regulations, and guidelines at the provincial and federal levels in Canada? What is the extent of such requirements within EA? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these mandates? Through the analysis of these questions, the goal is to identify areas that require improvement to inform practitioners, proponents, communities, and scholars of better CEA decision-making processes.

Rapid increase in urban sprawl in Montreal highlights the urgency of addressing this challenge. This study assesses greenbelt scenarios currently under discussion as potential strategies to control urban sprawl. To explore potential future pathways and provide guidance for future planning, the study proposes targets, limits, and warning values to urban sprawl as a reference framework. Seven urban development scenarios for Montreal until 2070 are compared, of which only one is assessed as sustainable. Valuable natural and semi-natural areas and agricultural lands surrounding Montreal provide an opportunity to establish a greenbelt. We evaluate four greenbelt scenarios in terms of their potential to reach the proposed targets and limits. At the level of the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), the analysis reveals that the greenbelt scenarios would significantly reduce sprawl compared to current trends. However, they remain insufficient to achieve the proposed target and limit to urban sprawl for Montreal. At the level of census subdivisions (CSDs), the greenbelt scenarios significantly affect some of them, with only one projected to meet its target, while several other CSDs would fall within the range between the limit and the warning value. The results demonstrate the potential of greenbelts to positively influence urban development towards more sustainability, even if the greenbelt proposals current under discussion do not achieve the defined targets and limits. Further improvement of this strategy may lead to more sustainable outcomes. Our study introduces a quantitative reference framework for evaluating the effectiveness of potential urban growth management strategies and planning alternatives.   

Educators in elementary, secondary and higher learning  spaces are being called upon to support their students in navigating  the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional dimensions of climate change. Despite encountering several constraints, most educators are willing to take up this hopeful work.  This talk will present the expressed needs and lived experiences of educators teaching in the context of the climate crisis in Canada, and propose pedagogical practices that can support educators from all disciplines in addressing some of the most important work of our lives. 

Contact us

For more information, contact Rebecca Tittler, Coordinator of the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre.

All participants are expected to treat each other with consideration and respect. Please review the detailed code of conduct.

Territorial acknowledgement

Concordia University and most of the participants in this event will be located in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), on the unceded lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, one of the founding nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. If you are not in Tiohtià:ke, you can find out whose land you are on.

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