Nature Based Climate Solutions Advisory Committee

The Nature Based Climate Solutions Advisory Committee provides expert advice to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on delivery of the Natural Climate Solutions Fund.


The Nature Based Climate Solutions Advisory Committee consists of external experts on nature-based climate solutions. Experts will participate in their personal capacity and not as representatives of organizations.

The Committee will nominate co-chairs for a period of one year. The Advisory Committee will be convened for a period of five years, after which its objectives and terms of reference will be re-assessed and revised as needed.

Committee members

Diandra Bruised Head (Co-Chair ), Kainai Ecosystem Protection Association (KEPA)
Diandra Bruised Head

Diandra Bruised Head is a Councillor for the Kainai/Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta. She was raised with the natural grasslands, rich riparian wetlands, and the Rocky Mountains that are throughout the traditional territory and homelands of the Niisitapii/Blackfoot people. She was elected as Councillor for the Blood Tribe in November 2020, bringing a background of environmental experience and climate change awareness work to the leadership table of her community. She has a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Lethbridge, and a Renewable Resources Management diploma from Lethbridge College. Diandra participates in many groups with mandates that target climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, including the Energy Futures Labs, Central Grasslands Roadmap Working Group, and the Alberta Environment Network. Her perspective as a Blackfoot woman aims to inspire balance in all aspects of society, and thus emphasizes her support and advocacy for grassroots groups, community led initiatives, and Indigenous women, mothers, and youth.

Gérard Szaraz (Co-Chair), Formerly Bureau du Forestier en Chef – Government of Québec
Gérard Szaraz

Gérard Szaraz is the former Chief Forester of Quebec, under the Ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs. He was also Advisor to the Fédération québécoise des coopératives forestières (FQCF) (2020-2021), auditor in sustainable development at Quebec’s General Auditor (2008-2010) and served as the General Manager of the Regroupement des sociétés d'aménagement forestier du Québec (RESAM) (1997-2001). In addition, since 2017 he is been a volunteer advisor for Nature Québec.

Kathy Abusow, Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Kathy Abusow

Kathy Abusow is President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a non-profit whose mission is a world that values the benefits from sustainably managed forests and whose vision is to advance sustainability though forest focused collaborations. She oversees standards, conservation, community and educational opportunities that advance sustainability and nature based solutions. Since she joined SFI in 2007, forests certified to the SFI® Forest Management Standard have grown from 140 million acres/56 million hectares to more than a 370 million acres/150 million hectares across public, private, Indigenous and community lands. Kathy also founded Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada), an initiative of SFI. PLT Canada launched its programming in 2018 and since then has placed young adults in over 5000 green jobs and internships in the forest and conservation sector across Canada. This employment and skills development initiative has achieved gender balance in its placements and has included almost 1000 Indigenous young adults from over 100 Indigenous communities across Canada.

Hadley Archer, Nature United
Hadley Archer

Hadley Archer is the Executive Director of Nature United, a Canadian charity whose vision is a future where people and nature are united, and ecosystems, communities and economies are thriving. He oversees a team that led ground-breaking research on Natural Climate Solutions for Canada, that identified the potential in Canada for nature to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through protecting, managing and restoring our forests, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands. He and his team are working in partnership with Indigenous communities, governments and industry to advance innovative solutions that address the climate and biodiversity crises, and that advance reconciliation and support a green economy. Hadley also worked with WWF’s global forest program, with WWF Canada as the VP Strategic Partnerships and Fundraising, and with the Forest Stewardship Council in Canada and Europe, building demand for responsible forest products.

Pascal Badiou, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Pascal Badiou

Dr. Pascal Badiou is a research scientist with Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research. As part of this role he has coordinated some of the initial effort to quantify the carbon sequestration and GHG emissions associated with restored wetlands across the Canadian Prairies. Dr. Badiou has also led the development of a wetland restoration protocol for the Alberta offset system and has also been involved with the Canada Grasslands Project Protocol all of which are directly relevant to the application of nature-based climate solutions.

Peter Boxall, University of Alberta
Peter Boxall

Dr. Peter Boxall is a professor in the Department of Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. His expertise comes from 10 years as a research biologist with the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, 10 years as the leader of a research program on the economic valuation of non-timber resources with the Canadian Forest Service (NRCAN), and 25 years as a professor of environmental and resource economics at the University of Alberta.

Valérie Courtois, Indigenous Leadership Initiative
Valérie Courtois

Valérie Courtois is the Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and a registered professional forester who specializes in Indigenous issues, forest ecology and ecosystem-based management and planning. She is a member of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, located on the shore of Peikuakami, or Lac-St-Jean.
Courtois holds a degree in forestry sciences from the Université de Moncton. She has served as a forestry advisor for the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, forestry planner for the Innu Nation, and as a consultant in Aboriginal forestry, including certification and spatial planning, and caribou planning. In 2007, she was awarded the James M. Kitz award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry for her early-career contributions to the forestry profession.

Chloe Dragon Smith, ‘Beb(a)ski - For The Land Consulting and Services/Nature Conservancy of Canada (Board Member)
Valérie Courtois

Chloe Dragon Smith is the ‘Beb(a)ski - for the Land consulting and services and the co-founder of an outdoor learning initiative called Bushkids, located in Yellowknife. She was born and raised in Somba K’é (Yellowknife), Denendeh (NWT), Kanata (Ontario). She has experience with Indigenous-led conservation as a past member of the National Advisory Panel for the Pathway to Canada Target 1, as a National Board member for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and as a consultant. Chloe has learned most of what she knows from her family and her upbringing. She is passionate about revitalizing Indigenous systems – self-determined systems of living, learning, management, economies, and governance. As a mixed blood person, she feels a constant responsibility to bridge barriers and help create balance however she can.

Angie Gillis, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq
Angie Gillis

Angeline Gillis is a proud Mi’kmaw woman and member of Eskasoni First Nation. Growing up outside her community in East Bay Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Gillis grew up surrounded by her family and her culture. She remains grateful as her unique upbringing gave her the strength and ingenuity to pursue her education. She is an alumnus of Dalhousie University and sits on Dalhousie’s Board of Governors. Angeline obtained her LL.B from Schulich School of Law and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar Society in June 2010.
Angeline is a practicing lawyer and has worked with The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) since October 2011. In 2019, Angeline was appointed by The CMM Board to be the organization's Associate Executive Director, making her to be the first woman to hold this position in the organization’s history, and in the largest tribal council in the east.

Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne

Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne is an environmental scientist based in Montreal, Quebec. She is currently the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas Director at Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. Her previous research and consulting work focused on ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and social-ecological resilience, across Canada from sea to sea to sea, in Latin America, Sweden, Southern Africa and South East Asia. Recent work includes leading the development of the Bio-Bridge Initiative for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (a mechanism for technical and scientific cooperation), developing an ecosystem services 'toolkit' for the Canadian government, researching, teaching and facilitating scenario methods and ecosystem service assessment, and advising governments at different scales on mainstreaming ecosystem services. Ciara was the Coordinator of the Subglobal Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Risa Smith, International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Commission on Protected Areas
Risa Smith

Dr. Risa Smith is an ecologist and current Leader of the Protected Areas Climate Change Specialist Group for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN/WCPA). In that capacity she represents WCPA on IUCN’s Nature-Based Solutions Advisory Committee and IUCN’s Climate Change Task Force. Dr. Smith has been a keynote speaker for many webinars related to Nature-Based Climate Solutions for both technical and public audiences, both within Canada and internationally. Risa’s recent report on “Enhancing Canada’s Climate Change Ambition with Natural Climate Solutions”, highlights the benefits for both reducing GHG emissions and of protecting Canada’s high-biodiversity/carbon-dense ecosystems.

James Snider, WWF-Canada
James Snider

James Snider leads WWF-Canada's Science, Knowledge and Innovation team, which provides the core science expertise underpinning WWF’s work in Canada. His foundation in conservation started at McGill University’s School of Environment with a specialization in Conservation Biology in 2005. He also has a graduate degree in environmental impact assessment from Concordia University. During his 14 years with WWF, Snider has led strategic initiatives through collaborative partnerships with academia, industry, government and Indigenous organizations. A key function of his work at WWF is to identify new and emerging areas to ensure conservation efforts in Canada are at the cutting edge. Most recently, Snider was senior author of the WWF-Canada’s flagship Living Planet Report Canada 2020.

Maria Strack, University of Waterloo
Maria Strack

Dr. Maria Strack is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Ecosystems and Climate. She received her PhD in 2006 from McMaster University where she studied the potential impact of climate change on peatland (wetland with organic soils, or peat) carbon cycling. Since then, she has built an innovative and internationally recognized research program that investigates peatland greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange with a particular focus on managed ecosystems, including disturbance impacts and restoration and reclamation outcomes.

Erika Svendsen, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Erika Svendsen

Erika S. Svendsen is a Research Social Scientist with two decades of experience with the USDA Forest Service. Erika is a leader in the field of environmental stewardship and nature-based solutions. She actively publishes and participates in a range of science-practice groups including the US DOI Strategic Sciences Group for Superstorm Sandy and has recently collaborated on a cross-agency report, Green Readiness, Response and Recovery: A Collaborative Synthesis. She is a recipient of several awards including a Forest Service Chief's Award for engaging urban America and an Early Career Scientist Award for the co-development of STEW-MAP, a tool promote equity, coordination and collaboration in environmental governance.

Mario Tenuta, University of Manitoba
Mario Tenuta

Mario is the Senior Research Chair in 4R Nutrient Stewardship and Professor of Applied Soil Ecology at the University of Manitoba. His training includes a B.Sc. in Botany and Physical Geography, an M.Sc. in Soil Science, a Ph.D. in Plant Sciences, and Post-Doctoral research in Nematology.
Mario was recently appointed a Senior Industrial Research Chair for five years. Previously, from 2006 to 2017, he served as the Canada Research Chair in Applied Soil Ecology. The Industrial Research Chair Program is advancing research in 4R nitrogen management practices on the Prairies to give farmers and industry solutions to increase profitability while improving soil and environmental health.

Discussion Papers

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