Diving deeper into natural resource education

  • Apr. 11, 2012 1:00 p.m.

Submitted by HG Higher Education Society–The Haida Gwaii Semester is nearing a close and students are diving into local marine issues as they focus on their final projects for Case Studies in Haida Gwaii, the seminar course that runs throughout the semester. This course is intended to give students an opportunity to integrate themes from the other four courses and contribute to a project relevant to Haida Gwaii. This year, HGHES partnered with Gwaii Haanas to offer a twist on the natural resource management theme. Normally the students focus on land management issues, said Gwaii Haanas new marine project manager Dr. Hilary Thorpe, the course instructor, but she’s had the class of 20 focus on topics related to Gwaii Haanas Marine instead.”The value of terrestrial parks is well established in the Canadian psyche,” said Dr. Thorpe, “but protecting marine areas is quite new, particularly in Canada. Gwaii Haanas is a leader in this field and it has been a pleasure to spend the past three months learning about marine issues with this bright and engaged group of students.”Throughout the course, the students have studied the history of Gwaii Haanas, including the establishment of the Haida Heritage Site in 1985, the National Park Reserve in 1993, and the National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR) in 2010. They’ve read Gwaii Haanas agreements and management plans, as well as scientific articles about ocean ecology and management. Most recently, students have begun working on their final projects. They are researching marine protected areas around the world and assessing what strategies are working and what lessons can be applied to Gwaii Haanas. Their project topics include: ecosystem stressors in Gwaii Haanas Marine; marine zoning systems; economic development opportunities; tsunami debris recovery planning; and cultural continuity strategies.Gwaii Haanas is responsible for developing a new management plan for the NMCAR by 2015. Getting the students involved in different aspects of this process helps Gwaii Haanas and also engages these young Canadians at a deeper level. “The most interesting and difficult aspect about focusing our case studies on Gwaii Haanas Marine is that it is so unique: there is nowhere else truly comparable,” said student Julia Dullien. “This makes the projects challenging indeed, because there is not much out there to guide us along the way.”Students will be presenting results from their projects at a public symposium tomorrow afternoon (Friday April 13th) from 1-4 pm in the Performing House at the Haida Heritage Centre. Everyone is welcome. Please join us to hear what the students have been up to and to celebrate the success of HGHES’ third Haida Gwaii Semester.

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