Conservation Science Projects and Initiatives

Faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students are engaged in a number of Conservation Science projects that provide insight into the kinds of things we do and study. 

Eskers Provincial Park Field Restoration Project

Tree plantingLocated just 30 minutes northwest of UNBC, Eskers Provincial Park is a small protected area located in a forested area in rapid transition. Prior to park creation, the area was logged resulting in a fairly uniform age and species forest in some areas. The pine beetle epidemic of the last decade changed the character, particularly of the southern portions of the park dramatically and the forest is beginning a slow process of renewal. A 68-acre hay field originally excluded from the park presents an ideal opportunity to begin restoration activities.   In 2016 UNBC faculty and students started to plan a climate-adapted ecosystem restoration for this field. Learn more about this project on the Eskers Provincial Park Restoration website.

In winter of 2019, Undergraduate Research Experience student Joel Lavigueur joined the Eskers restoration team presenting preliminary results at the BC Protected Areas Research Forum conference, helping out with seedling propogation in the UNBC greenhouse and leading a team of volunteers to install artificial habitats in the field and marsh. The next round of planting will take place in mid-May, 2019.

Students Working in Conservation Science

Jerrica Mann, MSc NRES (in progress)

Supervisor: P. Wright

Jerrica completed her undergraduate degree at UNBC pursuing conservation science studies through the NRM ORC major (natural science specialization). She went on to work first as a wildlife technician and then as a recreation program while completing an Advanced Certificate in GIS. She has returned to UNBC where her research is focused on developing a climate-change conscious approach to systematic conservation planning in the Peace River Break.

Laura GrantLaura Grant, MSc NRES (Completed)

Supervisor: C. Johnson

Laura completed her BSc in Biology at the University of Victoria and then travelled north to UNBC for graduate studies.  She focused her research on the impact of landscape change and recreation on the long-term distribution and abundance of the Telkwa caribou herd.  This population of woodland caribou is located southwest of Smithers, BC, and now numbers less than 25 animals.  Laura’s research has informed recovery activities, including recreation management.  Laura now works as a caribou recovery biologist for the BC Government.  Although her job requires her to work on caribou herds across northern BC, she continues to study and contribute to conservation actions focused on the Telkwa caribou. 

Chelsea Dunbar and Kristen Hirsh-PearsonChelsea Dunbar, BSc NRES (in progress)

Supervisor: O. Venter

Chelsea Dunbar is in her fourth year of the BSc Natural Resource and Environmental Management program at UNBC. To complement her studies, she is working with MSc student Kristen Hirsh-Pearson to map human pressures on the environment across Canada. Before coming to UNBC, Chelsea gained a diploma of Environmental Science from Camosun College and Kristen obtained a BSc in environmental sciences from Concordia University.

For her MSc, Kristen is producing the first human footprint map of Canada, identifying areas under the greatest anthropogenic threat and areas that are still ‘wild’. But is this map an accurate picture of the environmental condition in Canada? Chelsea is helping answer this by using GIS software and high-resolution imagery to evaluate 5000 1km2 plots across Canada. Chelsea’s findings will allow Kristen to determine how closely her map agrees with what Chelsea observed in these plots, and hence how accurately her map represents threats to Canadian biodiversity.