We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of one of the world’s leading champions of conservation of the Boreal Forest, Dr. David Schindler. David was a giant among the academic scientific community with scores of papers, books, prizes, honorary degrees and other accomplishments. He was also a fearless communicator of truth to power, speaking honestly and passionately to media about what science was telling us about the state of the environment and what needed to be done to ensure a healthier and more equitable world.
From a long history of working in and carrying out research in the Boreal Forest region, David understood the complex ecology of its aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems at a level that few others could comprehend. Because of that understanding and his respect for the knowledge systems and rights of the Indigenous people who inhabit the Boreal Forest, David wrote and spoke often about the urgent need for the conservation of the lands and waters and wildlife of the Boreal Forest. He was one of the first academic scientists to advocate for changes in thinking about stewardship of the lands and waters of the region and he continued doing so throughout his life.
Even as David spoke powerfully about the global significance of the entire Boreal Forest, he also brought a close focus to specific landscapes. He was famous for his work at the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario and later conducted scientific investigations in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, and the Mackenzie River Valley that underscored the need for conservation. He was a consummate biologist/ecologist who knew the intrinsic value of these landscapes, and he viewed Western science and Indigenous knowledge as essential companions. His expertise elevated the work of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign in the eyes of international scientists and Crown governments alike.
David taught many of us about the intricacies of ecosystems of the Boreal Forest and he modeled how to speak out to policymakers and the public about the issues impacting its future and the solutions that needed to enacted to maintain its health. We thank him for the leadership that he provided through his myriad contributions including as a member of the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel. That panel produced a number of influential publications and letters and convened many meetings and symposia over the years. David was always the champion that moved such endeavors forward and spoke eloquently to media, other scientists, and government decision-makers to increase the audience that heard the messages about Boreal Forest conservation from those efforts.
Thank you, David. We will miss you and your strong voice for conservation and for the environment.