Conservation, Sustainability and Social Innovation in the Greater Toronto Region (GTA)

The Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) is located to the north of the City of Toronto and extends from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River in the east.  The Moraine is approximately 190,000 hectares in size, 160 km in length and between 3 and 24 km wide.  It rises some 229 meters above Lake Ontario (Government of Ontario, 2002).  

My ORM-related work revolves around social learning, resilience, innovation and sustainability on this important and complex, social-ecological system.  I have been involved in community-based monitoring, the evolution of the environmental movement organizations on the moraine as well as the nomination of the ORM as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Biosphere Reserve.

Most recently, a group of moraine-based research have begun to formalize a collaborative research partnership with Ontario’s largest Conservation Authority whose jurisdiction lies at the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.  This emerging partnership, between the Waterloo Institute of Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), the School of Planning at Queen’s University and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s new Research and Development Group was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant.  The goal of this collaborative research is to leverage and mobilize research on complex social-ecological systems, social innovation and resilience to inform the practice of leading environmental management agencies such as the TRCA in protecting and restoring the natural environment in the context of improved sustainability and resilience of the entire social-ecological system of the Toronto area.