Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

IASNR in Cairns

The Cairns Esplanade over the mud flats at sunset

I’m belated posting about the International Association for Society and Natural Resources meeting in Cairns, at the end of June, because of the two weeks of family holiday in Queensland and New South Wales that followed it. It was an intense few days, including the hybrid panel-style book launch for Opening Windows, an excellent sequence of two paper sessions and a panel on Regenerative Agriculture (including content from Brooke’s postdoc work as well as a smattering of my grazing work in Australia), and a fun session on the state of the art in ecosystem services in which I presented the two in-review ResNet manuscripts building on surveys in the dykeland and tidal wetland context of the Minas Basin. I attended many excellent sessions, like the day-long series on Place. The conference was as stimulating as ever.

Brooke is awarded the 2024 IASNR Bridge Builder at the Business Lunch in Cairns.

My biggest delight, however, was seeing Brooke awarded the 2024 IASNR Bridge Builder Award at the Business Lunch session. I nominated Brooke for this important award for the leadership she has provided to the agricultural extension space in Canada, far beyond her official commitments to Farmers for Climate Solutions and Canadian Forage and Grassland Association. She has fueled a renaissance of rigorous ag social science among Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and their Living Labs programs across the country. Well deserved, and well-timed, as Brooke finishes her work at Dalhousie and heads off to the University of Nebraska to a dedicated research position in the extension space. Congratulations, Brooke, and thanks for your amazing work at Dalhousie!

The hybrid book launch for Opening Windows at IASNR 2024 with all editors and 7 authors attending.


Australia fieldwork

I have been in Australia for just over two weeks now, revisiting livestock producers I worked with during my postdoctoral fellowship in 2008-2010. I was able to reach just over a third of the original participants, and I have been visiting them on their properties to identify the sites of the photos they took back in 2008, and recapture the same photos. It is fun work, like a treasure hunt. Some landscape changes are subtle in that 15+ years, and some are not (like the 66-turbine Rye Park wind farm; see below – you’ll need to zoom in). Thanks to the ANU Sustainable Farms team for the use of their field vehicle, and to these wonderful farmers for offering so much of their time and good humour.

The Rye Park wind farm at sunset

Alex and Keahna at BoFEP

It’s summer conference season, and two team members have just been to St. Andrews, NB, for the joint Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership/ACCESS conference. Keahna had the opportunity to present early survey results from her Petitcodiac causeway survey, and talk about the larger study of which it is a part. Alex talked about the qualitative data analysis he led from our recent survey of apartment residents around the Minas Basin to understand their perceptions of coastal adaptation options like raising dykes, removing them to restore tidal wetlands and managed dyke realignment. He got a runner-up award for his poster. Conferences like BoFEP that are focused on a landscape/seascape, rather than field of study, are wonderful opportunities for engaging across disciplines.

Keahna presented preliminary results from the Petitcodiac case of her IDPhD research.

Ever busy, Alex presented two posters at the same time, one on his work with ResNet and one on his upcoming MI thesis work.

New research note on understanding sense of place

Figure 1 in Cotton et al. 2024, explaining the process

Visiting PhD student Isabel Cotton joined my team and the ResNet project for 3 months last year,  from her home unit at the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, and recently published a methods-oriented research note on that work in Journal of Environmental Psychology. The paper, Comparing thematic and search term-based coding in understanding sense of place in survey research, shows the result of exploratory work we did with Bangor University linguistic scholar Thora Tenbrink that took a qualitative approach by contrast with most survey-based assessments of sense of place. We compared the results of inductive and search-term-based coding of a free-text survey question on a survey of Minas Basin house residents asking them to, “Please describe [their] local area, in terms of what it means to [them] personally and how [they] use it”. The two sets of categories varied in their correlation, with more tangible themes like recreation/experience, relational/family and cultural heritage/history the strongest across the methods, compared with less comparable themes about restorative environments and small-town identity. What was particularly interesting, however, was that it was possible using word clouds to identify new terms to allow the search-term approach to improve its performance significantly (for instance recreation went from 0.75 to 0.96 correlation by adding only one term, exercise; see above).

New paper on practical fit of ES ideas in urban planning

Figure 2 in Thompson et al. 2024, in Planning Practice and Research.

Congratulations to Kate Thompson on her second dissertation paper hitting print today in Planning Practice & Research. The paper, The ecosystem services concept in urban planning: the criteria for practical fit, draws upon 31 interviews and two focus groups Kate did with planners in 3 Canadian cities to understand how planners feel about ecosystem services concepts and related tools (normative fit) and the suitability of both for planning work (practical fit). The gap between the two allowed her to probe about the characteristics that support practical fit, and the important role of policy entrepreneurs in encouraging that fit.

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