Big picture, community perspective
Dr. Anna Redden is the Director of the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research (ACER) at Acadia University, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is the only estuarine centre in Canada.
That distinction makes it a focal point for inquiry at home and abroad and Dr. Redden says she fields myriad requests for projects and services not only from within Nova Scotia, but also from across the Maritimes, Canada, the United Kingdom and Argentina to name a few.
“The Centre is called upon quite a bit,” she says, “and there will always be more demand than you can meet. There are more non-profits and NGOs out there than ever before and we try to help where we can.”
The assistance is considerable, with the Centre having cultivated a solid network of academics and community stakeholders over the last quarter-century. It encourages cooperative, multidisciplinary research programs that involve scientists and students from different disciplines and institutions: regional, national and international.
Additionally, Dr. Redden fosters relationships by sitting on committees and being involved in community groups. “It provides an opportunity to the public to come together and talk about things,” she says. “When opportunity knocks on our door and where rivers meet coastal waters, that’s where we go.
“Our applications are broad-based and our scope is far-reaching. Acadia University has a long history and is respected in the community for doing this kind of research. We always have a big picture in mind and that’s where the Centre meets industry.”
Plethora of projects
Dr. Redden grew up near the banks of the Avon River and is a native of Windsor, Nova Scotia. She went to Windsor Regional High School and then journeyed 30 minutes west to Wolfville, where she earned three degrees at Acadia: B.Sc., B.Sc.(H) and M.Sc. After working in Australia for 12 years, Dr. Redden returned to Wolfville five years ago as the Centre’s Director.
Under her leadership, the Centre has been involved in several recent and current projects, including:
• Tidal Power Environmental Research: A range of environmental studies (habitat, fisheries) related to tidal power development initiatives in the Minas Basin. “Nova Scotia has the opportunity to be a global leader in tidal power,” Dr. Redden says. Right now, it’s a matter of due diligence; “to proceed cautiously and responsibly in a fledgling industry, but Acadia is playing a big role in this project.”
• Ecology of the Minas Basin: Studies on the population biology and movement of fish species (Striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, American eel) with collaborators Mike Dadswell, Rod Bradford and Michael Stokesbury.
• Initiatives with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC): Development of research programs and a field research station on 1,000 acres of coastal lands in Aulac, NB (located on the border of NS/NB). Plans for salt marsh restoration of the extensively dyked areas at the Aulac site have been under consideration since 2006 and current planning has incorporated the research results of Acadia’s first M.Sc. Applied Geomatics graduate, Koreen Millard (2006-2008). In the past year, ACER researchers have assisted DUC with the modeling of dyke breaching and associated plans for salt marsh restoration and monitoring. Also, an MOU signed in 2004 by Acadia’s President, DUC’s President and Arthur Irving was further advanced in 2008 by a second MOU and a commitment by DUC for long-term funding (10 years; up to $1M) to support wetland research conducted by students and their supervisors.
• Watershed: Partnerships have been formed with the Dept. of Natural Resources and the Dept. of Environment to conduct watershed/water quality studies in the Upper Cornwallis River.
• Invasive Alien Species: Projects include studies on invasive tunicates in Halifax Harbour (with John Murimboh, Mike Dadswell and Trevor Avery). As well, ACER is home to the newly established Invasive Species Alliance of Nova Scotia (ISANS), which has received two consecutive years of funding from the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program under Environment Canada.
Bridges into the community
“Students assist our habitat stewardship projects,” Dr. Redden says. “We connect on a number of things and a nice bridge results extending out into the community.”
As an example, she cited ACER’s work with farmers along the Upper Cornwallis River and changes to properties that reduce nutrient loads in the river.
“Trying to introduce best land practices for farms (like the installation of riparian fences) lead to reduced nutrient loading and healthier waterways,” Dr. Redden says.
And although many projects occupy the docket at once, Dr. Redden likes it that way. “The Centre has built its reputation around looking at coastal environments, how coastal environments work, how things affect them and the impact of human involvement,” she noted. “The momentum is there and if you’re the kind of person that sees a good idea, you just go with it.”
Courtesy of Fred Sgambati