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Certificate in Environmental Conservation

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Developed from a biophysical science perspective, in partnership with the School of Environmental Sciences, this certificate is beneficial if you want to gain knowledge and an appreciation for environmental protection, conservation, preservation, and education and research. The program is designed to provide you with the credentials you need for professional advancement and personal enrichment.

How to Register

Open Learning Program Students

For your convenience, you can register for courses using OpenEd's secure online registration forms. Once a course opens for registration, links to the secure online registration forms will be available on specific description pages (found in the Available Courses section below). Visit our How to Register page for alternative ways to register and for methods of payment.

Please note that some courses and programs have an approval process that must be completed prior to confirming enrolment. See specific individual course description pages for details.

If you have any questions about registration, please email our main office or phone us at 519-767-5000.

University of Guelph Degree Students

If you are a University of Guelph degree student, please register for your courses through WebAdvisor.


You can take individual courses or achieve certification by successfully completing six degree-credit courses. Many of the courses are delivered entirely online through CourseLink, the University of Guelph's online learning management system.* A variety of courses are offered to allow you to customize your program to your area of interest or profession. The courses may be taken in any order, as long as prerequisite requirements are met. It takes approximately two years to complete the program.

Required Course

It is recommended that you take this required course early in the sequence:

ENVS*2120DE - Introduction to Environmental Stewardship

This course provides an introduction to the concepts of resource management, environmental planning and assessment, land stewardship and sustainable development. Case studies of specific issues such as parks and natural heritage conservation, agricultural land loss, and integrated rural resources management will provide insight on approaches to decision making. Included will be discussion of the concept of stewardship as an environmental ethics. (Offered through Distance Education only.) 

Elective Courses

Choose two or three of the following courses:

EDRD*3450DE - Watershed Planning Practice

An introduction to the principles and practice of watershed-based planning, with an emphasis on Ontario, but with reference to other parts of Canada, the U.S. and international contexts. History of water resource use and abuse, basic concepts of hydrology, water resource management, ecosystem approaches, and planning theory are also included. (Offered through distance education format only.)

GEOG*1220DE - Human Impact on the Environment

A global overview of the changing relationships among society, technology and the environment. This course emphasizes the major stages of human use of resources and the environmental consequences of global changes in production systems. It contrasts Third and First World experiences, focusing on core-periphery relationships.

GEOG*1300 - Introduction to the Biophysical Environment

This course provides an introduction to physical geography, focusing on the principles and processes governing climate, landforms, and vegetation systems and their interrelationships and will examine natural and human-induced changes to environmental systems. Laboratories will address techniques of measurement, representation and analysis of environmental systems using maps and satellite imagery, laboratory techniques, and field observation.

ENVS*1060DE - Principles of Geology

This course provides an introduction to geological principles, their historical development and application to interpreting Earth materials and processes. Suitable for those wishing a general knowledge of earth sciences. (Offered through Distance Education only.) 

ENVS*2060DE - Soil Science

This course is an introduction to the principles of soil science - the origin of soils, their classification and interpretation in natural and modified environments. Soil will be studied as a product of the natural environment, with a focus on formation processes and changes which occur when it is modified through use. A variety of uses including agriculture, forestry, recreation, and urban development will be considered.

ENVS*2250DE - Geology of Natural Disasters

This course will offer insight into the mechanisms of natural geological disasters and their effects on Planet Earth, human civilization and life in general. Events before, during and after geological disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impact and climate change will be the focus of this course. This course will not count as a science credit for B.Sc. students.

ENVS*3080DE - Soil and Water Conservation

This course examines the processes leading to deterioration of soil and water quality, the impact of deterioration on use, and preventative or corrective measures: soil erosion by water and wind, soil compaction and salinization, drainage channel maintenance, sedimentation and nutrient enrichment of water, conservation programs and policies, and reclamation of severely disturbed soils and saline-sodic soils. Emphasis will be on concepts and solutions to problems in a systems approach. (Offered through Distance Education only.) 


Choose two or three of the following courses:

BIOL*2060DE - Ecology

This course discusses the ecology of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria as individual organisms, interacting populations, communities and ecosystems. Lectures and discussion groups are used to demonstrate the difficulty of interpreting ecological data derived from field studies. The value of laboratory-based research in ecology will also be discussed. The course will be important for anyone who wishes to understand what we know and need to know about the way ecological systems work.

BIOL*3450 - Introduction to Aquatic Environments

This course provides an introduction to the structure and components of aquatic ecosystems, how they are regulated by physical, chemical and biological factors, and the impact of humans on these environments and their biota.

ENVS*3000DE - Nature Interpretation

This course explores communication and experiential learning theories and their application to natural history interpretation and environmental education program design and delivery. Students will develop interpretive materials, plan an interpretive walk and deliver the interpretive walk to a community group.

ENVS*3040DE - Natural Chemicals in the Environment

This course explores the roles of naturally occurring chemicals in the inter-relationships of organisms, and the historical and current uses of natural chemicals by humans for agricultural and medicinal purposes.

GEOG*2210DE - Environment and Resources

This course examines the interrelationships between people and biophysical processes. The main themes are: 1) characteristics of natural resources and processes through which they are developed and used and 2) human response to environmental conditions, including natural hazards and global change. Contemporary Canadian case studies will be presented at the regional and national scales.

GEOG*3020DE - Global Environmental Change

Major global environmental issues examined include climate change, deforestation, desertification and global fisheries. This course is interdisciplinary, exploring the interactions of bio-physical processes with human socio-economic dynamics, including policy initiatives. Particular attention is given to global climate change, its causes, its nature and extent, its implications for ecosystems and societies, and its governance implications.

GEOG*3210DE - Management of the Biophysical Environment

An examination of resource management, focusing on public and private decision-making processes. Consideration of techniques for evaluating resources, including EIA and risk analysis. Emphasis is on the economic, social and environmental implications of resource development and use. Contemporary Canadian case studies will be presented at appropriate scales.

*Please note that course codes ending with the letters "DE" indicate the course is offered online.

Available Courses

The following online courses are offered in the upcoming fall semester:

Additional Information

If you would like additional information on distance education, please visit our Distance Education FAQs page. For specific program-related inquiries, please email the Open Learning program Counsellor.