The Dish: Hana Ambury, soil health champion

Hana Ambury, Project Assistant, ART, Alberta Land Institute

Hana Ambury, Project Assistant, ART, Alberta Land Institute

When you are eating lunch, it might comfort you to know Hana Ambury cares about what you’re eating. Here’s why you might put down your fork and pay attention to her work.

You might not care about soil and soil health. Rest assured, Hana Ambury, Project Assistant, Alberta Land Institute (ALI) does.

“After discovering an interest in sustainable food systems during high school,” says Hana, “I began watching documentaries and quickly became passionate about the effects of humans on their environment.”

Since 2019, ALI has undertaken a review of soil health efforts in Alberta. This work highlights a societal failure to recognize soil as a valuable public resource and fragmented efforts to both identify and address research gaps and convey key findings to landowners and decision-makers.

We’re taking stock of sustainable agriculture efforts in Alberta and their impact on soil conservation in the province. There's a lot of gaps in the regulation and case law governing our soils. Not all agriculture producers know there is legislation to protect soil condition and health, nor are they supported to take action to better manage soil health. The research ALI is supporting will highlight ways in which the current regulatory and policy environment facilitates or hinders sustainable agriculture in Alberta.

“Through the Soil Health Initiative, I’ve focused on reviewing the current state of soil regulations and jurisdiction and synthesizing this information into policy options. This is making my coursework – where I focused largely on the sociological implications of development on communities, ecosystems and global economies – come to life. The healthier our soil, the better our food systems and our overall health.”

Part of the Adaptation and Resilience Training (ART) program, Hana is playing a key role in ALI’s soil health project and helping to build research capacity and engage stakeholders for the Understanding Risk Communication in Alberta’s Municipalities work.

Hana’s pursuing a career that empowers resiliency and equity for individuals and communities in the face of climate change, while addressing human impacts on the environment.

“My work with ALI has been the perfect opportunity to gain hands-on experience both conducting research and mobilizing knowledge on an important and interesting topic,” says Hana. “Both projects align extremely well with my future career goals, as I endeavour to work in disaster and resilience planning.”

Due to COVID restrictions, Hana has yet to meet the ALI team in person. Since graduating (at home) in April 2020 with a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences, then starting with ALI (working from home) in August, she hopes she’ll meet the ALI team in person before her work term ends in the spring. “Although we have virtual meetings all the time, I’m looking forward to a time in the future when we can safely meet.”  

Perhaps over lunch.