The 2018 Weston Family Ecosystem Innovation Award - ALUS
Congratulations to Dr. Wanhong Yang, recipient of the 2018 Weston Family Ecosystem Innovation Award
The 2018 Weston Family Ecosystem Innovation Award has been presented to Dr. Wanhong Yang, a Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph who has pioneered innovative research in modelling and quantifying environmental benefits of on-ground conservation projects.
ALUS Canada and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation presented two Innovation Awards during a special event at Y.U. Ranch in Tillsonburg, Ontario, on June 6, 2018.
“Dr. Yang’s research offers much-needed insights into measuring the benefits of wetlands for the broader public good,” said Mrs. Camilla Dalglish, Director, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. “My family’s Foundation is pleased to honour him with this award, recognizing his dedication to the conservation of Canada’s agricultural watersheds.”
This Weston Family Ecosystem Innovation Award recognizes researchers or ALUS Canada partners for excellence and innovation in scientific research, monitoring or verification of ecosystem services on working farmlands.
“My passion is to help advance ALUS by bringing scientific evidence and innovative modelling tools to bear on the ALUS program,” said Dr. Yang. “Through my research, I hope to help move its innovative work forward to another level over the next few years. Specifically, we will be using a hydrologic model to demonstrate the beneficial effect of ALUS projects that produce ecosystem services in representative watersheds.”
Indeed, Dr. Yang has spent over ten years developing a tool to quantify the environmental benefits of different agricultural conservation practices such as wetlands and riparian buffers. This tool is known as the “IMWEBs” model, which stands for “Integrated Modelling for Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial Management Practices.”
One unique feature of Dr. Yang’s model is that it is site-specific, which allows users to identify the most impactful sites for new restoration or conservation activities, so that better decisions may be made regarding the efficient deployment of resources.
Dr. Yang came to the University of Guelph in 2001, after winning the outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ever since, he has been the recipient of numerous grants supporting his research into the integrated economic, hydrologic, and GIS modelling for evaluating cost-effectiveness of conservation programs in agricultural watersheds.
He has published more than 50 refereed papers in academic journals on the subject, and he acts as a scientific advisor to committees and other organizations, such as the Detroit River Watershed Modelling Advisory Committee, the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environmental and Climate Change Canada, and more.