Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Falkland leverage points paper

Table 2 from the proof version of our leverage points paper.

Table 2 from the proof version of our leverage points paper.

This week another paper is out in Journal of Rural Studies from my lab, this time a paper led by former postdoc Wes Tourangeau based on my 2016¬†sabbatical field work in the Falklands. We used the re-emergent Leverage Points framework, originally developed by Donella Meadows, to analyze the management strategies used by Falkland wool producers in the face of a drying climate. Up until the 1980s the landscape was divided into massive properties, run largely ranch-style by locals for overseas owners. With post-war land reforms, properties were broken into largely family-sized units, and here the practices began to diverge. We’ve mapped those various strategies¬† along the leverage points framework. All the strategies have some leverage, but the Holistic Management practitioners are working much ‘deeper’ with their systems thinking and goal setting. The paper uses many quotes to illustrate how these play out in practice and affect the day-to-day and longer term.

Sample worksheets for holistic planning and monitoring used by one Falkland farm.

Sample worksheets for holistic planning and monitoring used by one Falkland farm.

Krysta in St. John’s with OFI

Krysta Sutton presented some early work at the OFI network meeting in St. John's this week.

Krysta Sutton presented some early work at the OFI network meeting in St. John’s this week.

The Ocean Frontier Institute has provided seed funding to Krysta Sutton to support the second year of her research on the otherwise NRCan-funded Making Room for Movement project led from SMU. She traveled to St. John’s this week for their network meeting to present early results from her qualitative analysis of this summer’s online focus groups with coastal residents of Nova Scotia. Some of those findings can be read from the headings on the poster: climate impacts residents see are (surprisingly) similar across coasts, most of the responses to those impacts that are seen are ‘hard line’ (e.g. seawalls), and they support the idea of ‘living shorelines’ approaches such as restoring tidal marshes, or planting up eroding coasts, but are a bit skeptical of their effectiveness.

Are we taking farmers seriously?

Discourse about 'farmer's perceptions' by region - Figure 1 of 'Are we taking farmers seriously?', Soubry et al. in press.

Discourse about ‘farmer’s perceptions’ by region – Figure 1 of ‘Are we taking farmers seriously?’, Soubry et al. in press.

Short answer: No. The first paper is out from Bernard Soubry’s Oxford PhD (which I’m co-supervising), and it is a systematic literature review in Journal of Rural Studies of research on farmer perceptions of climate change, 2007-2018. Very interesting patterns emerged from the 105 papers reviewed, including that the work is dominated by those seeking to ‘test’ farmer perceptions of climate change, rather than leverage them, and that the work is largely done in the Global South. Bernard describes this work as largely seeing farmers as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘verifiable’ rather than viably adapting, and tracks some of the colonial undertones at play. Congratulations, Bernard.

20 seconds on The National

This is my earnest face.

This is my earnest face.

CBC came calling this week about the recent letter in Bioscience warning about a “climate emergency”, on which I’m a signatory (along with 11,000 other scholars). Part of the press on this story is that it has not just been climate scientists signing on, but researchers from a wide range of fields including social science: climate touches us all. Kayla Hounsell and cameraman Steve visited my office yesterday for a quick explanation on why I signed, and it screened last night as part of a story about climate action in the Nova Scotia town of Berwick, after host Andrew Chang outlined the letter and its recommendations. During my email exchange earlier with Kayla, I explained my reasons for signing (little of which made it into my 20 seconds on air):

Briefly, I am concerned with ways to rewrite our landscapes and lifestyles for the scale of the changes we are facing. It is clear to me that we have great capacity for altruism and collective action if we perceive an emergency, such as in big storms or wartime mobilization, but we also have great capacity for inertia if all the signals we get are that there is potential it could be someone else’s problem. That’s why I signed. Anything that could expedite a sense of urgency among people and politicians is to be encouraged, as long as it is followed with action, rather than simply inoculate us against it.

New paper on ‘second-hand’ motivational crowding

A few years ago when my lab was given the opportunity by ECCC’s SARPAL program to initiate the first farmer incentive program in Nova Scotia for species-at-risk habitat management, I was a bit worried about introducing payments into a space where I already knew farmers were pretty supportive of biodiversity. Kate Goodale‘s and Simon Greenland-Smith‘s theses, and some of our later work together, demonstrated the ‘balance’ mindset farmers have toward wildlife and habitat. I was concerned that such intrinsic motivations would be crowded out by the payments, either for those who receive them, or for those who see others receiving them. We designed research around our new program, Wood Turtle Strides (WTS), to allow for pre- and post-tests of motivations around riparian management among those eligible and participating in WTS, as well as an experimental survey with other farmers in the province. We were unable to measure crowding among participants, for a few reasons (in part because of the small first-year n, but also because the program is not yet done), but there was no indication of second-hand crowding. The paper on this work is out today in The Canadian Geographer.

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