Jerome Dupras: Protecting nature through art and science

April 25, 2019

Clemence Marcastel

Jerome Dupras is one of the keynote speakers at Park People’s upcoming Heart of the City Conference taking place in Montreal, June 12-14, 2019. Jerome Dupras is the bassist in the well-loved Quebecois band, Les Cowboys Fringants, and Head of the Laboratoire d’Economie Ecologique at the Institut des Sciences de la Foret Temperee.

Dupras is unique in that his dedicated commitment to preserving and protecting nature lives at the intersection of  art, science, and activism.

Art and science share the stage


Jerome Dupras is not only a talented scientist and Geographer, but he’s also a bassist in a super-famous Quebec rock band.

Here’s how he makes sense of his dual-careers as a musician and scientist: 

Like music, science is a form of art. In science, like in music, you need to learn the basics and to practice a lot. To be innovative in art and in science, you need to be creative to make an impact. Breaking the boundaries between art and science is where the innovation ‘sweet spot’ lies for me.”.

In his career with Les Cowboys Fringants, Dupras uses the powerful platform afforded him to promote his message about the important and often overlooked value of preserving and enhancing nature. As a scientist, he’s used his artistic mind to develop creative research approaches that build people’s appreciation for and understanding of the ‘pay off’ that comes from investing in nature.

Making the economic argument for nature

Dupras and his team have developed a proprietary formula for measuring the economic value of natural infrastructure such as trees, rivers and flowers.

By finding ways to measure this value, Dupras has given nature a leg up in discussions that pit nature against  industry. More trees means less development, right? Sound familiar? Well, Dupras’ formula proves otherwise. As a result of his team’s open-source formula for quantifying nature’s economic value, municipalities have implemented tax credits for forest conservation and have justified planting more trees because of the pollination and natural water filtration services they provide.

Dupras and his team are committed to supporting grassroots, community-based groups by providing them with technical help to implement the formula.

 “I am really proud to see that our research is being applied,  allowing more people to preserve and cultivate natural infrastructure. It’s a model we want to see spread. The more people that use it, the better.”


Using music to cultivate the next generation of activists

In 2016, Dupras’ band Les Cowboys Fringants created a Foundation to support activities to help spread their message about the importance of nature. With support from fans, La Fondation Cowboys Fringants planted 375 000 trees to celebrate the 375 anniversary of Montreal. The crowdfunding effort was tied to album sales and funded the entire effort including a stewardship strategy.

“A tree planted now will be mature in 20 to 25 years,” said Dupras.“This is a gift to the children, both today and for the future”.

The Foundation also supported a program to teach songwriting to high-schoolers to help them use art as a platform for activism. Over 18 months, students from high schools across Québec wrote songs to promote environmental activism, all culminating in the release of 2 albums featuring students songs performed by well known Quebec artists:

It is an empowering process for budding student  who sees they started with a blank page and now their song and message is being performed  by a famous artist”.


Don’t miss your chance to hear from Jerome Dupras at the Heart of the City Conference in Montreal, June 12-14. He’s one of many dynamic speakers and presenters committed to the leveraging the power of parks across Canada. See you there! 


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