Way's forest research rooted in new CFI funding

By Jason Winders
April 14, 2014

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Danielle Way needed a window into our past, in order to provide us a direction for the future.

In support of her efforts, the Western Biology professor received $179,347 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (previously named Leaders Opportunity Fund) toward equipment allowing Way to analyze climate change impacts on Canada’s boreal forest. The funding was announced on Monday.

Way’s lab is one of 149 facilities at universities across the country to benefit from new federal investments through the Leaders Fund.

Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today announced more than $30.4 million in funding for research infrastructure at 32 universities across the country. In addition to climate change, these funds will also go to institutions with researchers working in areas such as pharmacology, infectious disease and materials engineering.

“Canadian researchers need state-of-the-art tools in order to undertake world-class research,” Holder said. “Our government believes significant investment in these tools is essential to making scientific breakthroughs, which improve the lives of Canadians and increases economic prosperity.”

At its root, Way’s research explores the physiological responses of key boreal tree species over time to the stresses of climate change – a combination of elevated temperatures, higher CO2 concentrations and dryer conditions. Climate change is reducing the productivity of Canada’s boreal forest during hot, dry years through reduced tree growth and increased mortality.

Canada’s forestry sector, including pulp and paper from boreal species, is worth more than $23 billion annually. Maintaining forest productivity for sustainable economic development requires predictions of how boreal tree growth and function will be affected by climate change.

Through infrastructure provided by the funding, Way’s research findings will help forest resource managers assess climate change impacts on forest growth and allow them to adapt their practices, such as avoiding planting species that are most vulnerable to future conditions and prioritizing harvesting of these species from existing forests.

“Cutting-edge facilities found at universities across the country become hubs where communities of students, researchers and entrepreneurs inspire each other to innovate,” said Gilles Patry, CFI president and CEO. “Their collaborations are vital to enhance Canada’s position as a global leader in research and enterprise.”

CFI is awarding $23.4 million for tools and infrastructure that allow leading researchers to continue expanding the frontiers of science, health, social sciences and humanities. An additional $7 million will be used to support the operational costs of this infrastructure.


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