By Courtney Lust
The United Nations declared 2021-2031 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. This declaration is timely as Canada urgently needs ecological restoration professionals.
The joint BCIT/SFU Master of Ecological Restoration program (MER) combines critical thinking and experiential learning in order to meet this need. Through community-based projects, students assess degraded ecosystems and design sometimes unconventional restoration programs.
The first of its kind in Canada, the MER program also allows students to connect directly with local communities to address their unique concerns regarding degraded ecosystems.
These connections do not happen by chance. Craig Orr, a professional ecologist and adjunct professor in the Faculty of Environment has more than 30 years of experience working with communities on restoration, conservation and natural resource management. Orr plays a significant role as a co-supervisor on projects by mentoring students and helping them secure projects with First Nations and city partners.