Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

MES student achievements

A work of art featured in the new MES-curated Dal Art Gallery show Nature as Communities

A work of art featured in the new MES-curated Dal Art Gallery show Nature as Communities

A few quick things to mention about our wonderful MES students at SRES, before I head out for ISSRM on the weekend.

  • Jennifer Yakamovich, who is studying environmental art with Tarah Wright (I’m only a committee member) has curated a visual art show at the Dalhousie Art Gallery with some of her research participants, called Nature as Communities. DalNews did a nice profile on her work.
  • Jaya Fahey, who I’ve been working with on Space to Roost, collaborating with beach users to share beaches with migrating shorebirds, today shared a short documentary that features the project, Sharing the Coast with Shorebirds.
  • Finally, Ellen Chappell presented this morning at Energy Research & Social Science, in Tempe, Arizona, about her survey-based Masters work on utilitarian landscape change and renewable energy in the Chignecto. She’ll be first in her cohort to defend June 17.

Brava, everyone!

Climate-resilient coastal natural infrastructure workshop

Canada's Climate Change Ambassador, Patricia Fuller

Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador, Patricia Fuller (Photo @tcadaptations)

I spent most of this week at an excellent workshop organized by TransCoastal Adaptations, a group led by Danika van Proosdij at Saint Mary’s that I’m aligned with via the Making Room for Movement project. Attendees came from across Canada and the US from academe but also government, NGOs, consulting and other practitioners, and instead of most conferences where those fragment across parallel sessions, the entire event was held in plenary style. This led to wonderfully rich conversations around the shared challenges we faced as members or stakeholders of the Cold Regions Living Shorelines Community of Practice. I met engaged folks from West Coast Environmental Law, White Point Lodge, Helping Nature Heal, Nature Conservancy, Kensington North Watersheds Association, Army Corps of Engineers, CBCL Consulting, and the Geological Survey of Canada, to name just a few, and had the rare opportunity to have dinner with Patricia Fuller, Canada’s Climate Change Ambassador.

Many definitions and synonyms of ‘nature-based’ were discussed, and I noted the tendency of the conversation toward ‘holding the line’ naturally rather than changing what we do behind that line, however green and/or fuzzy it is. Danika and I co-led a session on the communication dimensions where I called for empathy around the challenges that people face talking about retreat and other significant adaptations. We also presented our OECD case study, which prompted a discussion about how communication can be unpredictable. One person volunteered that instead of telling citizens what needs to be done, Surrey found it is best to show them the data and let them discover what needs to be done, then they own it. A Clean Foundation program manager talked about how they approached a First Nations community looking for sites to restore to salt marsh, but heard back about values to restore (such as specific plants). The Ecology Action Centre found that attendance at meetings varies dramatically depending on how recently adverse events have been experienced in the location. There is much more work to be done on best practices in this space. We are looking forward to contributing to the conversation after our focus groups in coming months.

Chapter out on resilience and HM

Archtypal land sparing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape.

Archetypal land sparing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape.

Back in 2014 colleagues at Leuphana and I had a chapter accepted in a volume of Ecological Reviews on Agricultural Resilience: perspectives from ecology and economics. I’m delighted to be able to report that the volume is finally published, five years later. Our chapter looks at the resilience implications of land sharing and land sparing, using as a case study the southeastern sheep-wheat belt where co-author Joern Fischer and I did our postdocs back at ANU in the late 2000s.  We compared grazing archetypes of land sparing (fencing out dense woodlands for protection while continuously grazing the rest; see above) and land sharing (farmers using HM, who grazed intensively and rotationally pretty much everywhere on their farms, supporting scattered trees and their recruitment but few dense woodlands; see below). The resilience implications of these options are analyzed, integrating ecology, economics and social dimensions, and consistent with where the broader sharing/sparing debate has settled, reached the conclusion that a diversity of approaches is needed for system-wide sustainability.

Archetypal land sharing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape, thanks to HM

Archetypal land sharing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape thanks to HM to the left of the fence.

Some of my favourite parts of the chapter are the sample quotes included on the social challenges of adopting HM practices that draw from my 2008 photo-elicitation interviews with graziers across a range of practices. They speak to the mundane yet powerful barriers of change that come from our need for relationships and respect: for instance,  not having anything to talk to conventional farmers about at BBQs (“what will I open with?”), or having people think they’ve “lost the plot” and feeling the pressure after HM training to “go like a sheep and follow the rest” rather than convert. Such pressures align with some of what we’re hearing from HM trainers, too.

More spring flooding on the Wolastoq

Flooded islands from Springhill Road, foggy Easter Sunday morning

Flooded islands from Springhill Road, foggy Easter Sunday morning

Another long weekend, another trip to Fredericton. Feeling lucky to get through on the Trans-Canada, particularly upon return, given flood stage at Jemseg. Despite the impacts to many up and down river, Fredericton still throws an impromptu ‘flood fest’ at such times, with residents driving downtown to view the swollen river and flooded infrastructure. Based on the art installation showing the levels of past floods (see upright posts, below), unlike last year this one will not make the history books. [Update Apr 25: I spoke too soon. Fredericton has now broken records and the highway is closed at Jemseg]

Impromptu flood fest at the Fredericton waterfront, Easter Sunday

Impromptu flood fest at the Fredericton waterfront, Easter Sunday

The newly renovated Beaverbrook had its flood gates up, but we were able to drop in to see the wonderful show by Ian MacEachern, The Lost City, documenting the vibrant community before and during urban ‘renewal’ in Saint John in 1968. Interesting to see this in the context of Halifax’s Cogswell Interchange renewal process: we’re pulling down the highway interchange created after slum clearance around the same time here.

Ian MacEachern photography show on urban renewal and dispossession in Saint John at the Beaverbrook

Ian MacEachern photography show on urban renewal and dispossession in Saint John at the Beaverbrook

Front row to flooding at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton

Front row to flooding at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton

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