The research area I have been exploring over the past twenty four years through participation in various local, national and international project venues is: how can the cumulative effects of human activities be incorporated into regional land-use planning and water resource management to maintain critical ecosystem and social ecological system processes?
The phenomenon of urbanization and regional population growth accompanied by a range of environmental, social, and economic issues can be found worldwide. The cumulative and spatial effects of population and land use change or intensification on regional landscape structure and function are poorly understood across scales and not well integrated into environmental governance and policy. Given my academic background in management, anthropology, environmental science and landscape architecture and my professional practice experience in community development, regional planning, ecological restoration and resource management; I view research as a critical component of practice and necessary for the advancement of practice. For me, theory informs practice and practice informs theory. As a result, the focus of my research is on environmental problem solving at local and regional scales and involves developing innovative methods, approaches and interventions that can be put into practice. The aim of my research is to understand and better design the kinds of environmental science-policy interface necessary to support sustainable development and resource management decision-making.
To this end, I have been involved in critical practice projects supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) related to urban environmental management in Thailand, sustainable urban development in Mexico and sustainable energy development in Ecuador and the Latin American Caribbean region. I have also been professionally engaged in ecological design practice for rural and urban development projects in China and Peru. On the more theoretical side of my practice research focus I was one of the recipients of an interdisciplinary Tri-Council (NSERC, SSHRC) Environmental Research Award on Urbanizing Watersheds while at the University of Waterloo and most recently Dr. Mike Quinn and myself were awarded one of six national SSHRC partnership grants in the environment theme area.
My current practice research with Dr. Mike Quinn is part of a larger transdisciplinary research program to co-create, with the Calgary Regional Partnership (our local government partner organization), a social ecological systems (SES) approach to developing a governance framework for integrating land use planning and water management at the regional landscape scale. This is demonstration research aimed at advancing both landscape ecology theory and regional planning practice to better integrate land use and water management. In addition, I am currently a member of an international interdisciplinary planning committee organizing a world summit for 2014 in the Galapagos Islands to explore sustainable energy mix in fragile environments and related practice research priorities.
Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler was the Dean of EVDS from 1998-2003. She holds interdisciplinary graduate degrees at the Masters and Ph.D. level in environmental science and natural resource management. Dr. Tyler has worked in both the private and public sector as an environmental planner and ecologist and spent ten years with the Federal Government in British Columbia working with Indian and Northern Affairs in resource development impacts assessment, local government development and intergovernmental resource management issues related to comprehensive land claims negotiations.