W. Garfield Weston Fellowship Program

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

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Anticipated deadline: Feb 20, 2021 2:00pm PST

Grant amount: C $5,000 - C $20,000

Fields of work: Environmental Conservation Ecology Wildlife Management Climate Change Resilience Environmental Stewardship Fisheries Natural Resources Show all

Applicant type: Graduate Student

Funding uses: Fellowship

Location of project: Canada

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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The purpose of the W. Garfield Weston Graduate Fellowship for Northern Conservation is to advance Wildlife Conservation Society Canada’s conservation goals at two long-term sites, the Northern Boreal Mountains (Yukon/British Columbia) and Ontario’s Northern Boreal, by generating relevant scientific information.

With generous support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) is pleased to offer research fellowships to graduate students (Master's and Doctoral). These fellowship awards are intended to:

  • Support research that is relevant to WCS Canada’s conservation objectives (see more information below) at our two long-term sites in the boreal region of Northern Ontario, and the Northern Boreal Mountains of Yukon and British Columbia.
  • Provide all or partial funding for graduate-level, field research activities for students to carry out their thesis-related research.

Ontario’s Northern Boreal (ONB) Long-term Site

  • To use conservation principles to inform regional and community planning and environmental assessment processes
  • To use scientific information to inform conservation of fish and wildlife
  • To provide information to First Nations communities to support planning goals and objectives
  • To develop and encourage best practices in industrial development that addresses conservation and traditional resource use
  • To advance the science necessary to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in Ontario’s northern boreal, particularly with First Nations
  • This region contains the world’s largest intact boreal forest, the third largest wetland, and the second largest peatland complex. Its sheer size (450,000 sq. km), remoteness, low human population density, lack of a permanent transportation or energy infrastructure network, and, as-yet, small industrial footprint make it a stronghold for a number of species that have experienced range reductions in the rest of Canada, including caribou, wolverine, and lake sturgeon as well as the most southern subpopulation of polar bears. It is also a homeland to approximately 40,000 First Nations Peoples (including Anishinabeg; and Mushkegowuk). In the last two decades, First Nations Peoples in this region have experienced a mineral boom in staking, exploration, and mining, intensifying in the past several years with the discovery of a world-class nickel-chromium deposit (the “Ring of Fire”). In 2010, the Government of Ontario formally committed to protecting at least 50% of the landscape and creating a 4 new relationship with First Nations to support sustainable development based on community. landuse planning processes.
  • Our vision is that Ontario’s Northern Boreal Landscape remains the largest intact boreal landscape in the world with thriving populations of iconic fish and wildlife species within a dynamic landscape, supporting healthy and resilient communities of First Nations pursuing traditional resource use and limited industrial development.

Northern Boreal Mountains (NBM) Long-term Site

  • To contribute to the identification and development of a full suite of ecological benchmarks or protected areas in the Northern Boreal Mountains
  • To contribute new science or scientific interpretations to enhance conservation of fish and wildlife in the Northern Boreal Mountains
  • To develop best management practices for the integration of wildlife and ecosystem conservation into natural resource management and human use of wild places
  • To strengthen the technical and scientific capacity of government agencies and other organizations which have a conservation mandate
  • To develop assessments of the risks to wildlife inherent in climate change and pursue suitable adaptation strategies in concert with various partners
  • This region encompasses approximately 855,000 sq. km in northwestern Canada, incorporating diverse boreal, taiga and tundra ecosystems. Resident aboriginal peoples rely on their harvests of wildlife and fish, including the longest-distance migration of salmon in the world. Much of the region is still wilderness, supporting robust populations of barren-ground and mountain caribou, grizzly bears, wolverine, and lynx, and significant breeding populations of many boreal bird species. Much of the region was part of the Beringian refugium during the Wisconsian glaciation, and that geographic isolation led to significant speciation and endemic wildlife. Lowland forest and riparian habitats support the majority of the region’s biodiversity but these habitats are poorly covered by existing conservation lands. WCS Canada is focusing on the NBM because of the mix of conservation opportunity and threat the region currently faces.
  • Our vision is that the full suite of wildlife species continues to thrive, with robust populations conserved across the diversity of ecosystems, throughout the boreal mountains of northwest Canada.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Fellowships funds are intended to provide all or partial funding for graduate-level, field research activities for students to carry out their thesis-related research.
  • Fellowship applicants must be pursuing a graduate degree in conservation science, or in a related field such as:
    • landscape ecology,
    • natural resources management/conservation,
    • conservation planning,
    • conservation biology,
    • environmental studies,
    • wildlife/plant/fisheries ecology, or
    • socio-ecological studies.
  • Relevant research areas include, but are not limited to, studies of:
    • aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems;
    • wetland, riparian, and peatland ecosystems;
    • species management/conservation;
    • ecosystem connectivity;
    • ecological changes resulting from climate change;
    • sustainable harvesting of fish and/or wildlife; and
    • socio-ecological effects of natural resource development or management, especially cumulative effects of multiple development projects.
  • Individuals that have received a WCS Canada W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship award in a previous year may reapply.
  • Applications to support an additional year of the same project will be considered.
  • Applications from past grantees for new projects will also be considered.
    • For example, a student that received a Fellowship award for Master's research may submit an application to support their Ph.D. research.
  • The proposed research project must help advance WCS Canada’s conservation objectives at one of its two long-term sites (the boreal region of northern Ontario or the boreal mountains of Yukon and British Columbia - please see above) or increase conservation knowledge that is relevant to one or both of these sites.
  • Research that takes place outside of WCS Canada’s two long-term sites, but that generates relevant conservation information may also be eligible.
  • Stipends and salaries for field assistants are eligible.


  • Fellowship awards are not intended to support student stipends.