I am a project manager for the Resilient Communities Research Collaborative and lecturer in geography at Wilfrid Laurier University. My research has focused most broadly on identifying the economic, political and cultural determinants of environmental degradation in Western society, and the various public policy tools and community-level actions that might best alleviate such degradation.
To date, specific foci have included collaborative decision-making for nuclear fuel waste management, desert research in California and Nevada, climate change impacts on maple syrup, municipal-scale climate change adaptation, corporate social/environmental responsibility, community-based resource management and community well-being research.
Climate change (CC) will exacerbate deterioration to existing infrastructure and increase replacement costs. Improved preparedness reduces risks and increases efficiency, readiness and coping capacity. To increase the preparedness of Ontario rural communities, this project develops CC-Prepared Inter-Community Service Sharing (ICSS) as an innovative strategy that expands cost-effective solutions within Ontario’s standardized Asset Management Planning (AMP) process. Overseen by a Project Advisory Board (PAB), it identifies a suite of best practice ICSS processes and principles and a range of factors and indicators that influence the uptake of ICSS as a viable and practical opportunity targeted to enhance rural infrastructure preparedness for CC.
It utilizes a multimethod, interdisciplinary approach involving an environmental scan, interviews, a survey and case studies and develops an ICSS Toolkit consisting of reports, workbook, policy brief and media kit. Knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) includes blogs, teleconferences, articles, presentations and a workshop. For small rural Ontario communities, this study enhances management of CC impacts on infrastructure through the development of a CC-Prepared ICSS strategy, increasing anticipatory, collective actions that reduce dam age and increase efficiencies.
It informs sound municipal/provincial level programs and policies about innovative ICSS that benefit rural communities through the identification of Ontario-wide trends, case study best practises and action-oriented recommendations.
Funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this five year project is focused on maple syrup production and the impacts of climate change. In particular, our program of work uses resilience thinking to understand how change and the capacity to adapt, transform and persist underpins resilience in interconnected social-ecological systems.
Using maple syrup production and sugar maple (acer saccharum) ecosystems as a focus, the project extends resiliency thinking to include analysis of resilient adaptation to climate change across historical, contemporary and future time periods. It also highlights the importance of understanding how people and their biophysical environments actively co-construct both change and resilience.
The project includes the collection and assessment of archival and oral history data, an evaluation of current management practices and the production of future forecast maps. The work is being conducted by a transdisciplinary team consisting of academics and community team partners. The team includes multiple ways of knowing including Indigenous, government, community, non-government organization, scientific and humanity-based perspectives.
CCSOS is a funded pilot program geared towards high school students highlighting the effect of climate change on one of eastern Canada’s great natural assets and contributions to the cultural landscape – the sugar maple and maple syrup. The pilot brought students to the Mountsberg conservation area where they explored a working maple sugar bush.
The Wilfrid Laurier University team helped developed the sugarbush monitoring program (using a citizen science model) and evaluated the impact of the CCSOS program on participant’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours associated with climate change and maple syrup. Following the funded pilot period, the program is now delivered year-around to complement educational programming offered at the Mountsberg conservation area.
This is a three year project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Climate change is leading to increasing impacts on critical infrastructure and Ontario municipalities are mandated to have emergency management plans to address these threats. While 75% of Ontario municipalities are at least partly rural, important knowledge gaps exist regarding the distinct vulnerabilities and resiliencies in rural communities to actively cope with these impacts, including extreme events.
To enhance municipal emergency management planning and strengthen adaptive capacities, the study undertakes collaborative research with a multi-institutional research team and uses a mixed methods approach. The goal is to further integrate emergency management with critical infrastructure planning approaches. We develop the eXtreme events Toolkit for Rural Emergency Management Enhancement (xTREME) that includes a policy brief for decision-makers, a resource guide for practitioners, a tabletop exercise and an executive summary.
This project, sponsored by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs identified competitive, innovative opportunities for capacity development across Ontario’s maple syrup agri-food value chain in rural and Indigenous communities.
This project (sponsored by Natural Resources Canada) used examples from community well-being initiatives to provide valuable lessons for the measurement of progress and effective adaptation to climate change. Adaptation is a process, action or outcome within a community that allows it to better cope with, manage or adjust to changing conditions, hazards or opportunities. While measuring the impact of climate change adaptation strategies is in an early stage of development, measuring similar activities within community well-being is well developed across Canada and internationally through the use of indicators and associated measures.
Gunson, B. K. P. (2015). "Measuring Progress on Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from the Community Well-Being Analogue". IDRiM Journal, 5(2), 115–134.
Gunson, B. (2015). "Climate Change SOS – Save Our Syrup!" Ontario Arborist Magazine. February 2015.
Murphy, B. and B. Gunson. (2014). "Measuring Progress on Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from the Community Well Being Analogue". Report submitted to Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division, Natural Resources Canada, 71p.
Murphy, B. L. and B. Gunson. (2014). "The Maple Syrup Value System" Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association: Information Days, Jan 7- Feb. 8, Poster & Project Update Presentations, 11 locations across Ontario.
Gunson, B., M. Stevens, and B. L. Murphy. (2013). "Valuing the Maple Resource: OMSPA 2013 Panel Discussion Report" News From the Sugarbush, “e-Letter”, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, December (Vol. 24).
Morin, G., B. Gunson and B. L. Murphy. (2013). "Maple Syrup and Rural/Aboriginal Resilience" Maple Syrup Summer Tour, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, July 2013, Cornwall.
Gunson, B. (2012). "Developing a Collaborative Environmental Decision Making Model to Site a Nuclear Fuel Waste Repository in Canada". Canadian Risks & Hazards Network (CRHNet), HAZnet 7th Ed. Vol. 4, No. 1 Fall. Vancouver, BC.
Gunson, B., & Murphy, B.L. "Is Public Participation Worth the Effort? Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of a Collaborative Environmental Decision-Making Approach for Siting a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in Canada". Abstract. East Lake Association of American Geographers Conference, 2009, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
Gunson, B. "Dealing with Shit: Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of a Collaborative Decision Making Approach for Siting a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in Canada". 2009 Psychogeographies of Possibility: Re-Imagining Spaces in Critical Times conference, University of Guelph, ON.
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