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2003 Research Grant Recipient - Ron Gaudet

Dune tracking
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.”

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