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Past and present ecosystems discussed

Long before Europeans arrived in the Rocky Mountains, the region’s ecosystem evolved alongside the flora and fauna with direct and ongoing input from aboriginal people.

Long before Europeans arrived in the Rocky Mountains, the region’s ecosystem evolved alongside the flora and fauna with direct and ongoing input from aboriginal people.

And now, centuries after settlement and development brought towns, railways, roads and industry to the Rockies, archaeologists, historians and ecologists are beginning to understand the magnitude of this change, according to Cliff White, former Banff National Park science manager and current research director for the Canadian Rockies Bison Initiative.

And with that understanding comes a better, more holistic, approach to restoring ecosystems rather than focusing on single species or single process restoration programs that usually fail.

White will explore this relationship and the importance of looking at ecosystem restoration as whole during his upcoming presentation, Bison, Beavers, Caribou and Aspen: A holistic perspective on restoring Canadian Rockies Ecosystems, as part of the How WildSmart Are You? Speaker Series at the Canmore Collegiate High School Theatre, Monday (Jan. 31) at 7 p.m.

“(It’s) the holistic viewpoint of how the ecosystem used to work in the past, how it works today in terms of how people used to interact in the system, how it worked with predators, how that worked with ungulates and how it worked with the vegetation, and looking back, how it used to work historically in contrast with how it works today,” he said.

Using examples of recent Canadian Rockies initiatives, including prescribed burning, caribou recovery and bison restoration, White will show how developing interdisciplinary, multi-species and process approaches will likely yield a more positive future for this famous landscape.

“That holistic perspective really does provide lots of little nuggets of knowledge and insight of what some of the issues are today.

“Our interdisciplinary approach is linking together historians and anthropologists and ecologists and once you do that and bring those folks together, and traditional knowledge, suddenly there is this synergy of understanding that comes out and really helps you understand the past and make better predictions for the future,” he said.

For more information go to www.wildsmart.ca


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