Interest in Oak Ridges Moraine research has steadily increased since the late-1980's and especially since the enactment of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act and Plan in 2001 and 2002. Academic research in numerous disciplines as well as interdisciplinary research has been undertaken at several universities and colleges across southern Ontario. Governments on various levels, conservation authorities and non-government organizations (NGO's) have also led and contributed to research on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Some of the educational institutions doing research on the moraine include: Seneca College, University of Toronto (both at the Koffler Scientific Reserve and through other program areas), Trent University, University of Guelph, York University and the University of Waterloo. If you are aware of other research being conducted on or about the moraine, please contact Dan McCarthy (listed below).

The 2007 Oak Ridges Moraine Symposium called for more coordination and collaboration on a number of fronts on the moraine, including research. These initiatives and efforts have led to interest in a network or coalition to coordinate ongoing research across the moraine.

Goal and Objectives

To promote coordination and collaboration between researchers whose work focuses on the Oak Ridges Moraine while fostering linkages between researchers and practitioners. The coalition will endeavour to achieve this goal by meeting the following objectives:

  • Undertake an inventory of existing social and natural science and policy research on the moraine and identify key gaps in knowledge, information and data;
  • Foster collaborative research projects, funding proposals and outreach and dissemination initiatives intended to raise the profile of, and ensure the sustainability of, the linked social and ecological systems of the moraine; and,
  • Promote community service learning by fostering strong relationships between researchers and practitioners with over-lapping interests in the sustainability and ecological and hydrological integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Members and Proposed Structure of the Coalition

The coalition is intended to bring together researchers, reflective practitioners and citizen scientists from universities, colleges, government agencies at various levels, conservation authorities and non-government organizations to share their moraine-based knowledge, information, data and experience. The coalition, at least initially, will be structured as a loose network of researchers (or network of research networks) with representation, in the form of a liaison, from each institution/agency/organization. The liaison will be the main contact/conduit between the coalition and the member institution/agency/organization and it will be the responsibility of the liaison to update other coalition members, students and relevant research contacts (i.e. Associate Dean of Research) regarding coalition activities/initiatives. Coalition members could also act as nodes or links to other relevant networks of researchers or practitioners to ensure cross-fertilization and to reduce the duplication of efforts. Regular, rotating meetings will be held to provide updates on on-going and proposed research, possible collaborative research projects and special topics (for instance, community service learning, research methods/approaches etc.).

Potential Research Foci / Framework of the Proposed Coalition

The coalition could utilize the up-coming 2015 consolidated Oak Ridges Moraine Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan and Greenbelt Plan review as well as the proposed Oak Ridges Moraine UNESCO Biosphere Region to provide foci for the above objectives. The 2015 consolidated plan review represents an opportunity for researchers to provide NGO's, government agencies, citizens and private sector organizations with coordinated, relevant research outputs that could be used to improve these important pieces of legislation. The proposed UNESCO Biosphere Region affords a framework within which researchers play a key role in providing logistical support to ensuring on-going environmental conservation efforts as well as local economic development opportunities that support sustainable livelihoods across the moraine.

For Whom the Coalition Would be of Interest

The coalition is meant to provide existing, emerging and future researchers with interests on the Oak Ridges Moraine with a forum to share and disseminate existing and proposed research. It is meant to provide students with a single-window to the wide breadth of potential research projects available on the moraine as a "living laboratory". And the coalition is intended to provide consumers of research such as government agencies, NGO's, citizen's and private sector organizations that have research needs on or around the moraine with a pool of interested and willing researchers with relevant knowledge, expertise and skills.

Initiatives Underway

As part of the Moraine Research Coalition's on-going effort to gather and disseminate moraine and greenbelt relevant research and to foster partnerships and collaboration, we have commissioned the development of the Moraine Research Coalition (MRC) Mapping and Planning Service (MAPS). This Geo-web application is meant to provide a focal point for Oak Ridges Moraine- and Greenbelt-based research and community service learning. The MAPS system was developed by COMAP and is currently being populated.

For more information about the Moraine Research Coalition and how to contribute to the MAPA system, please contact:

Dan McCarthy, PhD

Assistant Professor, Social Innovation Generation

Department of Environment and Resources Studies

University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

E-mail:   dmccarth [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca

Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust: Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve 18462 Bathurst Street Newmarket Ontario L3Y 4V9 Tel:(905)853-3171