2003 Research Grant Recipient - Ron Gaudet
Its 47 kilometres of sandy coastline has made Prince Edward Island National
Park one of the country's most popular parks. But as a result, it has also
become the most threatened, with some 830,000 people visiting it each year.
Ron Gaudet, a geography student in his fourth year at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax,
is classifying and mapping the delicate sand-dune ecosystem for his honours research project.
He hopes that the map resulting from his work will be used in a new brochure the Maritime
park is producing to inform visitors about the critical and fragile state of the sandy formations.
With a research grant from The Royal Canadian Geographical
Society, Gaudet spent two weeks last summer surveying 500 dune locations with a GPS
device and aerial photographs. Despite the park's numerous efforts to curtail human activity
on the dunes, he observed people using blowouts — depressions left by the erosion
of weakened dunes — as areas to lie on the beach for the day. “It was evident,” he
says, “that educating park tourists about the dunes is still needed.”