15 Life On Land

SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Find the most recent Gazette stories for this goal here

Teaching and Learning:

  • Memorial University's Grenfell Campus offers a Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences, which is a unique program focusing on cropping systems, land use changes, and the impacts of those changes on managed and unmanaged boreal ecosystems.
  • The Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Program (CABE) is an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on animal behaviour and behavioural ecology. It is designed to train students in research that integrates cognitive and behavioural studies at the ecological level.


  • The Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative (BERI) facility at Grenfell campus provides high-level research resources to support federal, provincial, university and private sector research with priorities in forestry, agriculture, and the environmental sector. The facility has three analytical research laboratories which focus on soils, plants, air and water.
  • Memorial received more than $6.5 million to go towards natural resources research in 2016. Dr. Susan Ziegler, whose project received funding, studied the effect of climate change on boreal forests which will in turn inform future forest policies.
  • In 2019, Drs. Yolanda Wiersma and Troy McMullin published a paper which proposes "developing an index of ecological continuity" to track lichen species, an indicator of biodiversity, in certain forests of interest. This index acts as a scorecard of lichen species, which could be used as a tool by conservation biologists and forest managers to determine an area's conservation value.
  • Dr. Luise Hermanutz from Memorial’s Department of Biology carried out experiments in the mid 2010’s to determine if balsam fir would regenerate in Terra Nova Park without assistance or if it was necessary to replant them in the black spruce savannahs. Balsam fir is a key species in the park, and their project aimed to show how useful it could be for forest restoration.
  • In 2020, Dr. Paul Snelgrove was one of more than 60 biodiversity experts to contribute to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty signed by almost 200 countries. He helped identify multiple targets that should be met to reverse biodiversity loss.
  • Dr. Amanda Bates, an associate professor for Memorial’s Department of Ocean Sciences, Faculty of Science, published a paper in 2019 which argued that smaller birds and mammals are likely to thrive in the future. The project hopes to help guide the conservation of species which were identified as more likely to go extinct in the next century.

Public Engagement:

  • In 2020, Dr. Yolanda Wiersma, a professor in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science published an op-ed about the benefits of the provincial governments Protected Area Plan for the Island of Newfoundland. The plan, created in consultation with members of the Memorial community, would create 24 protected areas, expand two existing reserves, and create six trasitional reserves in the province.
  • In 2017, representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments, educational institutions, community groups and tourism operators gathered in St. Anthony for Sustainable Northern Coastal Communities regional engagement sessions, a project of Grenfell’s Office of Engagement and the Harris Centre in St. John’s campus. A number of topics were discussed during these sessions, such as natural assets, including natural resources, ecosystems, water, climate, fishery, forestry, mineral exploration, protected wildlife reserves, and sustainable energy potential.
  • The Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council's (WERAC) mandate is to advise government on the establishment, management and termination of wilderness and ecological reserves within the province. In 2016, four members of the 11 member committee were Memorial faculty.