Nicolas Belanger

Professor - Montreal, Canada
Montreal, Canada
Nicolas Belanger

As an academic, I stopped flying to attend conferences in 2012 to lower my CO2 footprint. I still participate in conferences; I live and work in Montreal, where each year there are interesting events organized locally or in other cities that are easily accessible by bus, train, or automobile. When taking the automobile, I try to travel with colleagues and students in my lab.

By doing so I am not missing out too much, and I keep my research funds for field or lab work. I also encourage students in my lab to adopt a similar behavior.

I do fly occasionally for thesis defense and personal travels, but I try to limit my trips to less than 0.5 t CO2/year. This usually means flying every second year. There are really nice tools on the web to calculate CO2 footprints associated to air travels (e.g.

My research aims at characterizing soil-plant interrelationships and nutrient cycling in eastern Canadian temperate deciduous forests under a changing climate, as a means to strengthen the predictive framework of the response of forests to climate change. To do so, I conduct manipulative field experiments to assess how soil warming during the growing season and decreased snow cover during winter affect soil carbon dynamics at the northern limit of temperate deciduous forests.

I measure changes in soil organic carbon levels, forms and stability, organic carbon from soil microbial biomass, soil respiration, leaf litter decomposition rates, fine root biomass production and microbial communities, and dissolved organic carbon leaching rates under various warming treatments. I also measure soil nutrient availability, as well as seed germination rates, seedling survival, growth, water use, foliar nutrition, and root mycorrhizal fungi associations under these different treatments.

I am also the scientific co-director of 2RLQ (, which aims at facilitating all R&D activities and knowledge transfer to stakeholders related to tree planting in Quebec, including plantation forestry in agricultural and forested settings, the maintenance of green infrastructures in urban areas, and the reforestation/afforestation of severely disturbed sites (natural or anthropogenic). As part of 2RLQ, my current research activities are to develop suitable methods for the reconstruction of soils and afforestation of decommissioned mine sites.

I am thus lucky to be in a research field that allows me to lower my CO2 footprint by sequestering carbon in soils and trees.