Dr. Anthony (Tony) Charles

School of the Environment and School of Business

Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3C3

Tel: 902.420.5732 | Fax: 902.496.8101 | E-mail: tony.charles@smu.ca


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Saint Mary's University

School of the Environment

Environmental Science






Research and Projects

Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN)

The CCRN is a network of researchers and diverse community, Indigenous and governmental organizations at over 30 study sites around the world, hosted at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. Through the CCRN, these researchers and partners leverage expertise, collaborations and local knowledge on the linkages between communities, conservation and livelihoods, to compile, synthesize and create new knowledge of national and international significance. New insights from the CCRN’s research into regional and community environmental governance, capacity-building for aboriginal self-governance, local networking and the success of conservation initiatives are yielding important lessons for communities, policy makers and decision makers at all levels. Please explore the extensive website CommunityConservation.net for details.


Environmental Conservation and Stewardship by Small-Scale Fisheries Communities and Organizations


In small-scale fisheries around the world, fishing communities and organizations are actively involved in a wide range of environmental conservation and stewardship activities. This key role of small-scale fisheries can be essential to the health and livelihoods of fishing communities, and the environment and economy broadly, but it is not always widely known and appreciated. To improve this situation, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Saint Mary’s University (Canada), in cooperation with global fisher organizations, are engaged in a project to compile the experiences of small-scale fisher organizations and local small-scale fishing communities around the world, in environmental conservation and stewardship. This work will lead to a new guidebook for fishing communities, organizations and policymakers, as well as a better understanding of how small-scale fisheries protect and care for the environment, and what leads to success in environmental stewardship supporting sustainable livelihoods. The work will assist small-scale fishers to build stewardship capacity and provide guidance on how government legislation and policy can better support environmental stewardship in small-scale fisheries. All of this will support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines), and contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR)


MEOPAR is a Network of Centres of Excellence across Canada (www.meopar.ca) that brings together researchers to build Canada’s capability to assess and respond to marine hazards – such as oil spills, coastal flooding and the longer-term threats of climate change – and to manage the risks involved. Dr. Charles is Principal Investigator of a component of MEOPAR on Human Dimensions of Coastal Community Response to Marine Hazards and Climate Change. He is also part of a team (ICAP) studying ocean acidification and its impacts on coastal communities and economies. With communities along Canada's coasts regularly facing crisis situations due to marine hazards, it is important to support them through a set of ‘best practices’ that build community resilience to marine hazards, making use of all forms of knowledge, including local knowledge. Our integrated research approach combines social-ecological systems thinking with concepts of social learning and empowerment. We seek to support community adaptive capacity and long-term development of key strengths in Canada's coastal communities necessary to make them resilient to marine hazards, long-term and short-term. An evidence-based assessment of best practices for community level preparedness and resilience, along all three coasts of Canada, is being developed through a global meta-analysis of case studies. This will be used to provide policy input to governments, and to develop mechanisms for rapid appraisal to identify community values and priorities, and to assist in long-term planning for and short-term response to emergencies.


OceanCanada Partnership (OCP)


The OCP is dedicated to building resilient and sustainable oceans on all Canadian coasts and to supporting coastal communities as they respond to rapid and uncertain environmental changes. The research synthesizes social, cultural, economic and environmental knowledge about oceans and coasts nationally. Over the life of the project and beyond, we are taking stock of what we know about Canada’s three oceans, building scenarios for the possible futures that await our coastal-ocean regions, and creating a national dialogue and shared vision for Canada’s oceans. The component of OCP being led by Dr. Charles involves community-level and synthesis research focused on the future of Canada’s coastal communities. The first aspect of this project is community-based scenario-building to explore options for responding tochanges in social-economic and ecological aspects of coastal communities, and of specific sectors (e.g., fisheries, tourism, youth, elders), relating to economic development, environmental conservation, coastal planning, and climate change. This research will involve direct engagement with the community of Port Mouton Bay, Nova Scotia, an Ocean Canada partner. The second aspect encompasses the province of Nova Scotia and beyond, involving comprehensively identifying and surveying coastal communities engaged in local visioning, scenario planning and sustainable economic development, to develop a database of relevant communities, and to analyze results across the identified communities.


Coastal CURA (Community-University Research Alliance) 


The Coastal CURA operated over the 6-year period 2006-2012, building knowledge and capacity, across the Maritimes, to support community involvement in managing our coasts and oceans. The Coastal CURA - a "Community University Research Alliance" – operated as a partnership of First Nations communities, fishery-related organizations and university participants, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project reached out as well to other communities, organizations and academics, as well as to government agencies, interested in contributing to the goals of the project. With coastal communities and coastal resource users facing challenges from a range of environmental, economic and social impacts, the Coastal CURA helped to meet these challenges through support for community involvement in both grass-roots and large-scale integrated coastal and ocean management initiatives – typically ones that seek to manage multiple coastal uses (fishing, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, etc.) and that can have a major impact on the social and economic well-being of coastal communities. The Coastal CURA website (see link above) houses the proceedings of the international conference “People in Places”, which provides knowledge and insight on these coastal community challenges.


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