Leaving a legacy after G8

A year after the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, the federal government initiated the second half of its G8 Legacy program: the chair in Wildlife Ecology.

The program is a five-year, $2 million initiative funded by Environment Canada and will look long-term at wildlife in the areas around Calgary. Program chair Dr. Edward Johnson is excited about the research network this program will likely set up in the future.

"The term is ‘legacy’ in this," Dr. Johnson said, adding the program establishes a new community of research that will be recognized on a national or international level.

The initiative is likely to see reserchers in such varied disciplines as hydrology, geography, engineering, and biology. Dr. Johnson also hopes to make more research opportunities available to U of C students.

Dr. Johnson, an avid ecologist since he attended the University of Wisconsin, was chosen as the chair because of his current position as Kananaskis Field Station director. He has worked for the university since the 1970s, and became director of the field station 12 years ago. With his new position, Dr. Johnson hopes to take the field stations in new directions.

"There will be new opportunities they didn’t have before," Dr. Johnson said of his current research team.

He says the money will primarily be used to support people already involved in research, but the recognition will net attention for more funding. According to Dr. Johnson, a major benefit of the new grant is that it gives the field stations time, necessary for some of their long-term research.

More immediate plans involve finding major ecological problems in the area by communicating with groups like Kananaskis Country, Parks Canada, native communities and local ranchers. Long term goals of the project include public interfaces for research and programs for amateur naturalists.

"They felt collectively that there should be some legacy left over from the G8," Dr. Johnson said of the people involved with the G8 summit in Kananaskis.

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