Faculty Profiles

Martin Bunch

BA (Geography) - York
MA (Geography) - York
PhD (Geography) - Waterloo

Areas of Academic Interest

  • Ecosystem approaches

  • environment and health

  • ecohealth

  • adaptive management

  • watershed management

  • complex systems

  • system thinking

  • systems approaches to problem solving

  • geographic information systems

  • web-distributed GIS

  • international development


My educational background is in the discipline of geography. However, my work is interdisciplinary (existing at the intersection of several of the disciplinary sciences and geographic subdisciplines) and transdisciplinary (as the problems I address require an approach that transcends traditional disciplinary bounds). It seems obvious to me that this type of work is fertile ground for geographers who (supposedly) are practitioners of a science which is both analytic and synthetic, makes use of qualitative as well as quantitative methods, and has a history of exploring the relationship among human beings and their physical environments.

My approach to environmental studies and geography is best illustrated by comments made by Leslie Currie in a 1991 issue of The Canadian Geographer. Currie has commented that,

people who write on the aims of geography but do not combine its analytic and integrative roles simultaneously are surely missing the boat.

Currie was referring to the need for cumulative synthetic theory in geography, and lamenting the tendency of some geographers to identify too strongly with neighbouring systematic fields. In opposition to the divisive influence of traditional disciplinary science on geography, and to emphasise the importance of synthesis, he stated (1991) that;

I really have no time at all for those great minds who emphasise a unity of science corresponding to a unity of reality and the divisiveness of petty disciplines. There are only ‘problems' to be tackled, applied or academic, and we must all contribute what we can. Essentially, this leaves the mature disciplines not only defining the problems but also judging the solutions in terms of their ground rules. One has to staunchly reject the numerous clarion calls to pursue knowledge where'er it may lead, since this means following physicists into their kind of climatology or economists into their sort of spatial economy, wherever their particular train tracks take them. We have to be willing to be naïve where specialist sciences are strong, knowing that we are sophisticated where they are weak.

It is a task of those who undertake environmental studies to bring together the knowledge and tools of physical and social sciences such as geology, chemistry, economics and sociology, to bear on the applied or academic problems on which they ply their trade. But merely applying a variety disciplinary tools and knowledge sets to the problem is insufficient. Knowledge must be integrated in a such a way that our understanding of the issue at hand is enhanced in a way that the cumulative contribution of disciplinary understandings is unable to achieve. The geographer's focus on space and place provides both a theoretical anchor and a set of methods and techniques to do this.


Bunch, Martin J. (2001) An Adaptive Ecosystem Approach to Rehabilitation and Management of the Cooum River Environmental System in Chennai, India. Geography Publication Series No.54. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo.

Curry, Leslie (1991) "Guest Essay: The Need for Cumulative Synthetic Theory" in The Canadian Geographer, 35(1): 2-9.

Kay, James J., Boyle, Michelle, Regier, Henry A. and George Francis (1999) "An Ecosystem Approach for Sustainability: Addressing the Challenge of Complexity" in Futures, 31(7):721-742.

Major research projects

Building ecological connectivity and human well-being in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, Costa Rica: Scenarios and tools for socio-ecological systems with F. Montoya-Greenheck, IDRC Canadian Partnerships Small Grants, 2013-2015.

The Juturna Project: Using Web-GIS to support community--based water quality monitoring in the Toronto Region, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, 2011-2012.

Las Nubes Project for Neotropical Conservation and Research, Fisher Fund and Donald Hunter Charitable Foundation, 2010-2011.

Improving competitiveness and profitability of Canadian Agriculture with an Organic Science Cluster, co-applicant with D. Lynch in a Dalhousie University/Nova Scotia Agricultural College collaborative project, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2010-2013.

Web-GIS for community environmental monitoring: Information sharing and interoperability, Ontario Ministry of Environment, 2009-2010.

Using outcome mapping to consolidate learning and ensure sustainbility in an eco-health project, International Development Research Centre, 2007-2008.

Ecosystem sustainabiltiy and health internship in Costa Rica -- Canadian International Development Agency-International Youth Internship Program (CIDA-IYIP), 2007-2008.

Internet-distributed GIS tools for information sharing, Ontario Ministry of Environment, 2006.

System development of open source geospatial tools for information sharing, Ontario Ministry of Environment, 2006.

Collaborative development of an internet-based GIS application to enhance environmental monitoring, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), 2004-2005.

An adaptive ecosystem approach to managing urban environments for human health,  Social Science and Humanities Research Council, 2001-2004.

Selected Publications

(See http://www.yorku.ca/bunchmj for a more complete list and links to abstracts and full papers.)

Bunch, M.J. (2016) Ecosystems, Society, and Health: pathways through Diversity, Convergence, and Integration, L. Hallström, N. P. Guehlstorf, & M. W. Parkes (Editors), 2015, Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press. Ecohealth. [online first, ahead of print].

Morrison, K, M.J. Bunch and L. Hallström (2016) “Public Health at the Watershed Scale” pp 337-356 in  S. Renzetti and D. Dupont  (eds.) Water Policy in Canada.  New York: Springer.

Bunch, M.J. (2016). Ecosystem Approaches to Health and Well-Being: Navigating Complexity, Promoing Health in Social-Ecological Systems. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33, 614-632.

Ghaffari A, Bunch M.J., MacRae RJ, Zhao SJ. (2015). Spatio-temporal Modeling for Complex System Transition to Organic Agriculture in an Ontario Sub-watershed. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies. 8(3-4): 13-25.

Bunch, MJ, M. Parkes, K. Zubrycki, HD Venema, L Hallstrom, C Neudorffer, M Berbés-Blázquez and K Morrison (2014). Watershed Management and Public Health: An Exploration of the Intersection of Two Fields as Reported in the Literature from 2000 to 2010. Environmental Management 54(2): 240-254.

Kebo, S. and M.J. Bunch (2013). Canadian ENGOs in governance of water resources: information needs and monitoring practices. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 185(11): 9451-9460. Doi: 10.1007/s10661-013-3264-6.

Rapson, A., M.J. Bunch and H. Daugherty (2012), "A Decade of Change: Assessing Forest Cover and Land Use Trends in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, Costa Rica." Latin American Journal of Conservation 2(20)-3(1):37-46.

Venema, H.D and M.J. Bunch (2012), "The State  of the Art in Integrating Ecohealth and Watershed Management Approaches," Human Evolution and Global Bioethics, 27:1-3 (Republished from Venema and Bunch, 2011, in Global Bioethics).

Bunch, M.J, T. Vasanthakumaran, and R. Joseph (2012), "Using GIS for Spatial Planning and Environmental Management in India: Critical Considerations". International Journal of Applied Science and Technology, 2(2)-40-54.

Vashanthakumaran, T. S. Divja Rajeswari, N. Annammadevi, J. Nandhini, M.J.Bunch, D. Morley and D. Franklin (2012), "Community Engagement in Chennai Slums: A Reflection from the Field," International Quarterly for Asian Studies, (43)1/2):99-113.

Bunch, M.J., K. Morrison, M. Parkes, and H. Venema (2011) "Promoting health and well-being by managing for social-ecological resilience: The potential of integrating ecohealth and water resources management approaches." Ecology and Society.16(1): 6. [online].

Bunch, M.J. and M. MacLennan (2010) "Usability Trumps Features: User needs and the redesign of a web-based GIS to support community environmental monitoring." OSGeo Journal 6:40-52.

Parkes, M. W., Morrison, K. E., Bunch, M. J., Hollström, L. K., Neudoerffer, R. C., Venema, H. D. and D. Waltner-Toews. 2010. "Towards integrated governance for water, health and social-ecological systems: The watershed governance prism." Global Environmental Change 20 (4):693-704.

MacRae, R., Gallant, E., Patel, S., Michalak, M., Bunch, M., & Schaffner, S. (2010, Fall). "Could Toronto provide 10% of its fresh vegetable requirements from within its own boundaries? Matching consumption requirements with growing spaces." Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Advance online publication.

Handy, Femida and Martin J. Bunch (eds.) (2009) Sense and Sustainability: Interdisciplinary Research in Environmental Studies. York University Books: Toronto, Canada.

Handy, Femida and Martin J. Bunch (2009) “Change Your World(view): A Setting for Interdisciplinary Research and Action” in F. Handy and M.J. Bunch (eds.) Sense and Sustainability: Interdisciplinary Research in Environmental Studies. York University Books: Toronto, Canada. Pp 1-4.

Parkes, M.W., Morrison, K.E., Bunch, M.J., and Venema, H.D. (2008) Ecohealth and Watersheds: Ecosystem Approaches to Re-integrate Water Resources Management with Health and Well-being. Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health (Publication Series No. 2) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, MB.

Bunch, Martin J. (2008) “Human Activity and the Ecosystem Approach: The Contribution of Soft Systems Methodology to Management and Rehabilitation of the Cooum River in Chennai, India.” In D. Waltner-Toews, J.J. Kay, and N.M. Lister, (eds.) The Ecosystem Approach: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gudatis, Lia and Martin J. Bunch (2008) [Multi]culture and the City: The Representation of Culture in Toronto’s Cultural Facilities Database. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 17(1): 1-27.

Maclachlan, J., M. Jerrett, T. Abernathy, M. Sears, M.J. Bunch (2007) "Mapping Health on the Internet: Developing an Interactive Web Site with Input from Prospective Users" in Health & Place, 13(1):72-86.

Bunch, Martin J., V. Madha Suresh, Beth Finnis, Dana Wilson, T. Vasantha Kumaran, Raj Murthy, Michael J. Jerrett and John Eyles (2006) “Environment and Health in Chennai, India: An ecosystem approach to managing the urban environment for human health” in the Indian Geographical Journal, 81(1): 5-22.

Bunch, Martin J., Beth Franklin, David Morley, T. Vasantha Kumaran and V. Madha Suresh (2005) “Research in turbulent environments: Slums in Chennai, India and the impact of the December 2004 tsunami on an EcoHealth project” in EcoHealth 2(2):150-154.

Bunch, Martin J. and Douglas J. Dudycha (2004) "Linking Conceptual and Simulation Models of the Cooum River: Collaborative Development of a GIS-based DSS for Environmental Management" in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 28(3):247-264.

Waltner-Toews, David, Martin J. Bunch, Cynthia Neudoerffer, Margot Parkes, and Henry David Venema (2004) “Championing Ecosystem Sustainability and Health: Profile and Tribute to the Life and Work of James Kay (1954-2004)” in EcoHealth, 1(4):334-339

Bunch, Martin J. and Christine Jewell (2004) “Phases and Issues in the Transition to ETDs” in Edward A. Fox, Shahrooz Feizabadi, Joseph M. Moxley and Christian R. Weisser, eds., The ETDs Sourcebook: Electronic Theses and Dissertations: A Sourcebook for Educators, Students, and Librarians.  New York: Marcel Deckker Inc.. Pp. 233-246.

Bunch, Martin J. (2003) "Soft Systems Methodology and the Ecosystem Approach: A System Study of the Cooum River and Environs in Chennai, India" in Environmental Management, 31(2):182-197.

Bunch, Martin J. (2001) An Adaptive Ecosystem Approach to Rehabilitation and Management of the Cooum River Environmental System in Chennai, India. Geography Publication Series, No 54. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 461 p. ISBN: 0-921083-62-9

Bunch, Martin J. (2001) “GIS for Marginalization or Empowerment in Environmental Management: A South Indian Example” in The Indian Geographical Journal, 77(2):1-17. 

Bunch, Martin J. (1997) "Environmental Management of the Cooum River, Chennai: The Potential Role for Geographic Information Systems and Simulation Modelling" in Information Studies, 3(3):87-108. 

Bunch, Martin J. (1996) "The Physical Ecology of Slums in Madras: A GIS Analysis of the 1986 Survey of Slums" in The Indian Geographical Journal, 71(1):12-32.