The Protection of Nature in Highly Urbanized Landscapes: The case of Rouge National Urban Park

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 12:10:00 PM - Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:00:00 PM
Rm. SS 1069, Sidney Smith Building, 100 St. George Street
Environment Seminar

FAISAL MOOLA, PhD, Director General, David Suzuki Foundation; Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto; Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

ABSTRACT: Despite being a vast nation of mountains, forests, and ice, Canada is truly an urban society. Over 82 per cent of Canadians now live in cities, and according to statistics collated by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Canada is among the top fifty urbanized nations on the planet. Public investment in urban infrastructure, such as sewage and solid waste management, energy production and distribution, transit, and other built structures and technologies has come to dominate public debates on how we should grow and manage our cities. At the same time, a less obvious but incredibly valuable asset of cities – natural capital - like urban ravines and other woodlands, wetlands, healthy waterways, and beaches has received far less political attention or government funding. The recent establishment of Canada’s first urban National Park on the edge of Toronto (Rouge National Urban Park) illuminates the critical importance of protecting green space in highly urbanized landscapes. Rouge National Urban Park compliments traditional infrastructure, protects the habitat of hundreds of wildlife species, sustains critical ecosystem services and provides easy access to nature for urban residents. However, managing for multiple goals has proven difficult, with conflicting visions of a new “people’s park” vs. the traditional nature-first approach for Canada’s National Parks system.

BRIEF BIO: Faisal Moola is one of Canada’s most respected environmental scientists and advocates. His research in conservation science and environmental policy has been published in numerous academic journals and award-winning books and he is a regular contributor to the opinion pages of Canada’s leading newspapers. For the past decade Faisal has led an expert team of scientists, policy experts and community organizers at the David Suzuki Foundation in support of the protection of Canada’s cherished wild spaces and endangered species, as well as the greening of our towns and cities. Faisal has been at the forefront of some of Canada’s most iconic environmental battles, including successful efforts to protect B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest and the establishment of Canada's first Urban National Park in the Rouge watershed on the edge of Toronto. He is the Director General for the Ontario and Northern Canada Department at the David Suzuki Foundation and has adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Toronto and York University. He will be joining the University of Guelph as an Associate Professor of Geography later this fall.