University researching Island's ecosystem management

McGill University is taking an interest in Prince Edward Island's environment.

A professor and some students are looking to develop an "ecosystem management model" based on Island research. Students were on P.E.I. during the summer, collecting data.

Brian Leung, an associate professor with the School of Environment at McGill, said a management model would help residents take care of the environment while making a profit on things that are currently considered a nuisance, like sea lettuce.

The model could address many questions.

"So, for example, with sea lettuce, is it an option to start collecting it?" Leung said. "Is it an option to start using it for biofuels? How much biofuel would be generated? Is it an option for recycling it? How much nutrients is it actually talking up?

"Could we actually start recycling the nitrogen and phosphorus? What we can do about them that may actually be beneficial economically or for other aspects of society?" he added.

Leung said P.E.I. was chosen for this project, in part, because Islanders cooperate and communicate well with each other, which is essential when trying to manage an ecosystem.

"There were a number of reasons to choose P.E.I. There seemed to be some interest in such a project and some people have argued that the people there are more likely to cooperate with one another," Leung said.

"So people there who are agriculturalists may also be farmers, they may know a lot of farmers, they may interact with people from the city. If we could actually build some sort of ecosystem model for an entire province, that would be quite impressive."

This year is the first year of the project.

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