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Lecture Series

James Love Lecture on Environmental Conservation

The James B. Love Lecture in Environmental Conservation is named after James (Jim) Love in recognition of his tremendous support for the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) and York University

A film screening and panel discussion with Bridget Stutchbury, Joanne Jackson, Michael Mesure, Emily Rondel, Andres Jimenez and Paloma Plant, to examines the global demise of songbirds, presented by the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), will take place at the Nat Taylor Cinema (Ross Building) on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 pm.

The event, featuring the 90-minute documentary The Messenger, is presented in partnership with the James B. Love Lecture in Avian Conservation.

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A former Canada Research Chair in Ecology and Conservation Biology, Dr. Stutchburt a Distinguished Research Professor and at York University.

Dr. Stutchbury specializes in songbird conservation and has been researching the migratory routes of the declining population of songbirds migrating between Canada and the tropics. She is the author of Silence of the Songbirds.

On March 25, the lecture will focus on her research on migration tracking results for Purple Martins, Red-eyed Vireos and Wood Thrushes.

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Martha and Murray Sr. Fisher Lecture on Rural Wellbeing

The Martha and Murray Sr. Fisher is named after Dr. Woody Fisher's family and in recognition of his ongoing support to the Las Nubes Project and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, including the initial donation of the Las Nubes Biological Reserve to York University in 1998

In this lecture, Dr. Carlota Monroy will describe her team’s work with villagers in Guatemala to combat Chagas. Chagas is a parasitic disease that can affect various organs, potentially resulting in death. The parasite is transmitted to humans primarily through insects. Chagas disease is a “forgotten” disease of the poor that affects much of the rural population in Latin America. Dr. Monroy uses a community-based “ecohealth” approach to study the persistence of vector species in human dwellings. Using local technology and skills, and working with local community members (particularly women) her team addresses housing conditions to reduce exposure to insect vectors.

The Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is a tropical parasitic disease found in rural Latin America, spread by blood-sucking (“kissing”) bugs. It causes serious cardiac and gastrointestinal problems in 30-40% of those infected, often leading to death. In Central America, more than five million people are at risk of infection. Some genetic groups of Triatoma dimidiata, the main Chagas disease vector in Central America, are adapted to mud constructed houses, which are typical in poor rural communities. Conventional methods of vector control (spraying of pesticides) are ineffective or require a continuous cycle of repeated application.

Since 2004 her team has applied an ecosystem approach to health for the control of Chagas disease in Guatemala. This “ecohealth” strategy is transdisciplinary, participatory and paid attention to gender considerations. Working with communities, anthropologists, sociologists, architects and engineers, they assessed and prioritized risk factors for Chagas transmission. They then developed house improvement methods using local materials, and by adapting traditional practices. The strategy counteracts risk factors that promote the presence of vectors. Community participation and education were key factors for success. Dr. Monroy’s team also built capacity in the Ministries of Health in several countries to execute house improvements and addressed domestic animal management, e.g., by constructing wire chicken coops. Vaccination of chickens against major poultry diseases significantly decreased chicken death rates and increased the number of chickens per household, meat consumption, and generated additional income for women.

Several NGOs (WV, USAID, CARE, FAO-PESA, PRESANCAII) have taken up this Ecohealth approach and have helped improve more than 4000 houses in Central America. Results include decreased vector infestation, a shift of blood sources from humans to chickens, and relocation of domestic animals outside of houses. Geohelminth infections in children from intervention villages were significantly reduced after floor replacement. Home improvements and animal management proved effective in the elimination of house infestations by bugs, in reducing human-vector contact, and as an overall well-being strategy.

Koerner Speaker Series in Neotropical Conservation

Janzen's lecture titled “Conservation of tropical wild biodiversity via biodiversity development: a Costa Rican example” is the fourth of the Koerner Lecture Series in Neotropical Conservation. Janzen is the DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and technical advisor to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica, will look at where classical tropical national parks are gradually failing in many ways.

He will discuss the 165,000-hectare government/private hybrid ACG's practical approach to tropical wild biodiversity conservation with 35 years of success. Its basic principles contend conservation must be site-based and respond to the biological, social and economic reality of the region.

Decisions must be taken at the regional level, the wilderness area must be visualized as a productive sector for the economy of the region and the country, and that quality conservation must be economically sustainable over time. ACG is testing and proving that biodiversity development is a viable way forward to protect vulnerable species and help local communities thrive, with ecotourism, biodiversity prospecting for medicine, carbon sequestration and more.

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Noël Sturgeon, dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies, cordially invites you and a guest to the Koerner Speaker Series in Neotropical Conservation on May 6, featuring world-renowned anthropologist Wade Davis and his talk, "The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in a Modern World".

Named in honour of the Koerner family for their generous support of the Faculty's Las Nubes Project, this lecture features an intriguing discussion about the world’s indigenous cultures and updates about the progress being made in Las Nubes. Visit for more details about the lecture.

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In her talk entitled “Excavating Land and Memory Through Public Art”, world-renowned muralist, Judy Baca will discuss the significance of one of the prominent images represented in the Canadian panel of the “World Wall” – Teztan Biny, otherwise known as Fish Lake. Baca will demonstrate how land and memory are critical to the cultural preservation of indigenous communities. Additionally, she will address the issues of land conservation and the effect of megaproject development on the memory and tradition of indigenous people, as it similarly relates to proposed projects in the biological corridors of Costa Rica.

Judith Baca is best known for her large-scale public murals. Her art involves extensive community engagement and participation and addresses multi-cultural audiences. Currently, Baca continues to work on the “World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear”. Baca's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, published in numerous periodicals, journals, and books, and documented in several films. She has received awards and recognition for her work from community groups and most recently was the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Latino/a Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education.

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Costa Rica's Minister of Culture and Youth, Manuel Obregón, a jazz pianist and composer known internationally for integrating piano and the sounds of nature, will speak about the relationship between culture and conservation at York University on Tuesday.

This special environmental jazz concert and lecture is the inaugural event in the Koerner Speaker Series in Neotropical Conservation. Funded by the Koerner Foundation and hosted by York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies program, the series will run annually for three years to help raise awareness of the Las Nubes Project in Costa Rica.

Las Nubes, meaning “the clouds” is a rainforest donated to York University by Toronto doctor Woody Fisher in 1998. To help protect the rainforest, York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies worked with Costa Rica’s Tropical Science Centre to create a fund to support research on tropical deforestation, sustainable development and biodiversity.

Felipe Montoya-Greenheck, director of the Las Nubes Project and Chair in Neotropical Conservation at York, will speak about the Las Nubes Project, introduce Minister Obregon and facilitate a conversation with the audience. A reception with the environmental artist follows the event.

Obregón has recorded more than 20 albums. In his work Simbiosis, Obregón takes his piano into the Costa Rican rainforest, where he engages frogs, howler monkeys and songbirds with his musical compositions.

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Guadalupe Urbina, was born in Guanacaste Costa Rica in 1959. From her early childhood, being the youngest of 10 children, she remembers her mother, Angelita Juárez as her main source of inspiration. She introduced Guadalupe to traditional stories, songs, and rhythms that later in life became her basis for her professional career. As an adult, Guadalupe became a world traveler. She represented her country’s musical tradition performing throughout Latin America and Europe, in Central Africa, the USA and Canada.

Guadalupe prefers to performs in events concerning peace and human rights issues, but she also been part of events such as the 1988 concert at the National Stadium in Costa Rica, where she performed along with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour. Guadalupe works creatively with children and has developed several projects with socially challenged youth creating musicals that are performed throughout Costa Rica. She is so known and respected throughout Costa Rica and neighboring countries.

Guadalupe Urbina is also a painter and writer. She paints with acrylics and oils using paper made from natural fibers in tropical countries. Several of her paintings are available in limited edition museum quality Giclee prints. The biggest source of inspiration for her paintings are the creation myths of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. She paints images that have deep philosophical meaning within rural indigenous or mestizo peoples such as quetzals, butterflies, snakes and trees in both distant and present time. Her stories and songs are based on the myths and imagery of the peoples of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican. Guadalupe represents the soul of Costa Rica for her people with these many dimensions of creativity.

On her visit to Toronto for the 2018 Koerner Lecture Series Guadalupe will:

  • On March 7, 2018, offer a workshop for graduate students at the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES). This event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and will be co-hosted by the Community Arts Project (CAP).
  • On March 8, 2018, perform for 2 hours at the Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1T9) starting at 8:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. This event will be co-hosted by the CAP.

Lambert Lecture Series on Indigenous Peoples & Neotropical Conservation

Tirso Gonzales of the University of British Columbia Okanagan discussed different knowledge systems and climate change as it affects Andean indigenous communities in South America at the inaugural Lambert Lecture on Indigenous Peoples and Neotropical Conservation.

York University hosted the lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 26, in partnership with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Las Nubes Project.

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Get in Touch

Thank you for your interest in the Las Nubes Project!

For information concerning the Las Nubes Project or the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation, please contact us at

Lillian Meighen Wright Centre (Las Nubes EcoCampus)

Santa Elena, Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica