Dr. Rene Van Acker, will present Farms and Woodlots: keystones to a healthy environment for all. As Professor and Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, he understands farming in Ontario. Rene will highlight the many benefits of the farming sector to our communities. Farmers with the opportunity to add to or enhance woodlands will increase their ‘investment’ in the economy and the environment. Providing woodlands and healthy habitats increases the value of ecosystem services for everyone.
Previous to his position at the Ontario Agricultural College, Rene was chair of the department of Plant Agriculture (2006-09). He is a co-founder of the Arrell Food Institute. His research interests include weed management and agronomy. His research on coexistence and genetically modified crops has led to work in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany, Australia, and the U.S. He holds BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of Reading (UK). Rene grew up on a farm in southern Ontario.
Rene says - “My intention is to help raise awareness about the fact that not only does agriculture affect the environment but for most Canadians, it isthe environment because more than 90% of Canadians live in farmed watersheds. Farmers and woodlot managers should get greater recognition for what they do; it is so important to our environment. I think there should be program and support recognition for woodlot managers and farmers with woodlots.”
Susan Willis Chan, a Ph.D. Candidate, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph. She is well known for her ecological project work with farmers and her passion for pollinators. In her presentation, How Wooded Edges Make Farms Better, Susan will demonstrate how rural landowners can improve the ecological health of their property and expand their overall yields at the same time. Participants will go home loaded with practical ideas.
Susan’s presentation will focus on the benefits to farming of having wooded edges, benefits that include providing habitat to insects, birds, mammals, and other creatures that provide pest control and pollination services, preventing wind erosion, creating microclimates for crops and livestock, and increasing complexity to prevent pest and disease outbreaks, as well as playing a role in mitigating climate change by capturing carbon.
Susan is now working full time on her Ph.D. Previously, she consulted with Farms at Work , with expertise in many aspects of agricultural education She teaches Sustainable Agriculture at Fleming College and Trent University. Susan holds a B.Sc (Agriculture) from McGill University, M.Sc Environmental Biology (Pollination) from the University of Guelph, and B.Ed. from the University of Western Ontario.