Peter N. Duinker

Professor Emeritus Dalhousie University

School for Resource and Environmental Studies
Co-Investigator, Atlantic Node, forWater Network (NSERC)
Co-Principal, Sylveritas Ltd.
Founder, Halifax Tree Project


Interests and Expertise

forest ecology; environmental assessment; natural resources decision-making; land-use and forest planning; wildlife habitat supply analysis; biodiversity assessment modelling; forest management and policy; climate change and forests; climate-change adaptation; conflict resolution and public participation; forest sustainability; criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management; conservation of old-growth forests; urban forests


My formal training is in ecology and resource management (BScAgr, Guelph, 1978; MES, Dalhousie, 1981; PhD, UNB, 1986), but I also engage in work in the social and policy sciences. My scholarship embraces a wide range of topics, most of which deal with forests and the environment. I am one of Canada’s leading scholars and practitioners on the topics of sustainable forest management, urban forests, and environmental assessment. I held Lakehead University’s Chair in Forest Management and Policy from 1988 to 1998, served as Research Area Leader for the Sustainable Forest Management Network of Centres of Excellence from 2000 to 2009, and was member, vice-chair, and chair of the CSA Sustainable Forest Management Technical Committee from 2000 to 2015.  I have worked closely with governments, companies, and NGOs across Canada on issues related to sustainable rural and urban forest management and policy. One of my recent projects was working with a consulting team to develop a “Guide for Preparing Forest Stewardship Plans” for the NS Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.

In 2010, I began a long-standing relationship with the urban forestry group of Halifax Regional Municipality (see below). I established a website – – which is dedicated to producing and sharing learning materials about Halifax’s urban forests. My latest award for service to the cause of forest sustainability is the Royal Galipeau Award of Distinction, given by Tree Canada in 2020. Since my formal retirement from active duty as a Dalhousie University professor, I have continued my engagement with graduate students as well as a variety of consulting projects.

Current Urban-Forest Projects and Initiatives

1 – UF Research and Monitoring for HRM

Annually from 2010 to 202, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Dalhousie University enter into a research agreement that funded my students to provide research and monitoring services associated with implementation of the HRM Urban Forest Master Plan, a plan which we at Dal helped develop. The centrepiece of the summer program was measurement of as many of the newly planted street trees as we possibly can, but there were many other projects. Each year we worked closely with the Superintendent of Urban Forestry, Crispin Wood, in setting and implementing the research agenda. You can discover the products of many of our projects on the website and in the following document:

Duinker, P.N. 2023. Urban Forest Management and Research in Halifax, NS: Contributions from the School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University. School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.

2 – UF Governance

Tyler Doucet joined Dalhousie in summer 2021 to take a Master of Environmental Studies and work under my supervision to complete research and a thesis on the topic of UF governance. Specifically, we are interested in deciphering the role of NGOs in fostering successful municipal UF programs. His MES thesis was defended in August 2023 and two journal manuscripts have been submitted. Tyler is now with PWC Canada as a “senior associate, forestry”.

3 – Potted vs. Balled-&-Burlapped Planting Stock in the Urban Streetscape

In summer 2022, I installed an experiment on my street in the centre of the Halifax Peninsula. The aim is to discover whether potted planting stock can do as well, in terms of growth and survival, as the much larger balled-and-burlapped stock that is typically planted streetside. It is much cheaper to planted potted stock. You can find a description of this project on the Halifax Tree Project website.

Teaching about Urban Forests

In my retirement, I lead numerous urban-forest walkabouts for various groups of citizens in Halifax. With my junior friends and colleagues, I try to keep a steady flow of materials into the Halifax Tree Project website.

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