Simon Fraser University

Pine beetle, Middle East, marriage, cities, youth labour - issues, experts & ideas

September 21, 2005
Issue: Attacking the mountain pine beetle

The mountain pine beetle infestation is being called the worst natural disaster to ever hit BC's forests. The federal government is responding with $100 million to help combat the crisis. SFU geography professor Arthur Roberts has found that it's possible to track the pests before they fly and subsequently monitor their spread across several generations - a strategy that would help forest companies better plan when and where to cut infested trees. Roberts flies an SFU research plane over BC's forests and uses time sequential high-resolution aerial imagery to determine changes in everything from salmon stocks to the activity of the mountain pine beetle. Roberts is expected to meet with government officials to discuss early detection strategies.

Meanwhile, SFU biology professor emeritus John Borden says the battle with the beetle is mostly lost in BC's North. “The strategy there should be to recover as much value from the forest as possible, and to accelerate regeneration and maturation of new stands to close the age gap created by the infestation.” He notes that the objective in the South should be to delay the outbreak for as many years as possible, noting there is little chance of terminating it, to continue to harvest sound timber. He can also elaborate on concerns over rising forest water tables.

Issue: Mandela's legacy and the Middle East

Based on his long-time research in South Africa, SFU political sociologist Heribert Adam will explore what can be learned from successful racial reconciliation and peaceful co-existence for the ongoing strife in Israel/Palestine, when he gives a talk to the Vancouver Institute on Mandela's Legacy: Reconciliation Between Israelis & Palestinians?, on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8:15 p.m. at the UBC's IRC Bldg., 2194 Health Sciences Mall. The lecture is adapted from his new co-authored book, Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking Between Israelis and Palestinians. Adam critically examines the controversial analogies between apartheid and Israeli occupation and asks whether a Truth Commission would serve reconciliation in the Middle East, and whether a South African-type common society is feasible, inevitable or preferable to a two state solution in Israel/Palestine.

Idea: Beating the divorce odds

September's the start of wedding fair season, when prospective brides crowd into local hotel ballrooms to drool over gowns, rings, bouquets, and other nuptial neccessities. For psychology assistant professor Rebecca Cobb, it may be the perfect time to recruit nearly-weds for a new marriage study focusing on what keeps marriages together. Cobb is looking for 200 local, childless, never-married, heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 45 who are within a few months of their wedding date to participate in a three-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded study examining the transition to marriage.
    Rebecca Cobb, 604.268.7155 or 604.291.3123;

    Idea: SFU launches new urban studies graduate program

    It has been over two decades since a Canadian university launched a graduate degree in urban studies. SFU launched its new program Sept. 19. "SFU has opened a new chapter in Canada's urban education," says Anthony Perl, director of the program. "We look at the 'why' of urban structure and function. Our graduates will blaze the trail in making cities sustainable, and Canada will be better off from their efforts.” Student research projects are expected to take full advantage of the program's downtown location.
      Anthony Perl, 604.268.7887 Susan Jamieson-McLarnon, Media & PR 604.291.5151

    Issue: Concern over new employment rules and child labour

    A study by SFU political science professor Stephen McBride raises serious questions about the effectiveness of new employment regulations in protecting children and youth in the workplace. Under the new regulations, which allow the hiring of youth as young as 12, certain conditions must be met, such as direct supervision of employees aged 12-14 by an adult at all times. McBride's study notes that several conditions are regularly violated, leaving child workers less protected in BC than in other Canadian jurisdictions. McBride's study Child and Youth Employment Standards: The Experience of Young Workers Under BC's New Policy Regime, is part of the economic security project, a joint research initiative of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and SFU. Download the study at

Stephen McBride, 604.291.4375;

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