Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Agriculture (page 1 of 23)

ResNet is getting busy

Jen Holzer of ResNet Theme 1 leads Landscape 1 through some facilitated discussions in the first ResNet workshop.

Jen Holzer of ResNet Theme 1 leads Landscape 1 through some facilitated discussions in the first ResNet workshop.

Yesterday we had the first workshop for ResNet Landscape 1 team, facilitated by ResNet Theme 1 (see above), in combination with our quarterly team call. We achieved an interesting set of break-out discussions on issues of ecosystem services in landscape 1 and as an integrative opportunity in research.

The quarterly call also featured a one-hour student symposium chaired by SMU MA student Brandon Champagne, where we heard from a dozen ResNet-affiliated students from Dalhousie, SMU, and Acadia about their research, including some early results from the field season now almost behind us. Two of those presenting students were Evan McNamara and Terrell Roulston, both SMU students in Jeremy Lundholm’s EPIC lab. Evan is pictured below doing some recent knowledge mobilization about their pollination ecosystem services work with participating farm owners and workers at Abundant Acres, where they did some of their fieldwork this past summer. Great work, everyone!

Evan McNamara showing pollinators to the team at Abundant Acres after the field season he and Terrell Roulston spent partly on that farm, Oct 3,2020 (Photo: Terrell Roulston).

Evan McNamara showing pollinators to the team at Abundant Acres after the field season he and Terrell Roulston spent partly on that farm, Oct 3,2020 (Photo: Terrell Roulston).

New paper in Human Dimensions of Wildlife

The Motivation-Values Triangle advanced by Tourangeau et al. (in press) in Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

The Motivation-Values Triangle advanced by Tourangeau et al. (in press) in Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

This new paper has been a little while coming. The survey that we ran in relation to the Wood Turtle Strides program back in Spring 2017 was designed to help us understand whether introducing incentives for conservation into Nova Scotia would have any impact on motivations to do conservation. Already, many farmers in the region voice pretty strong support of biodiversity, using a discourse of ‘balance’. I wondered: if we start paying people to do it, will their more intrinsic motivations get ‘crowded out’? The size of the participant list involved in the program made this hard to answer definitively, but it certainly didn’t seem likely to crowd out conservation motivations for their neighbours to learn about the payments. That first paper came out last year in The Canadian Geographer.

Today, a new paper is out in Human Dimensions of WildlifeBeyond intrinsic: a call to combine scales on motivation and environmental values in wildlife and farmland conservation research, that emerged from a bit of a surprise in that data. The statements we used to measure motivation for carrying out riparian management were based on a well-used scale, but we discovered whenever we used the word ‘wildlife’, responses correlated strongly together. Then-postdoc Wes Tourangeau took this as a challenge and developed a theoretical recommendation about how to explore motivations in such situations, arguing that motivations are entangled with environmental values such as ecocentrism and thus both should be tested.

New paper on rangeland health and rotational grazing

Congratulations to Kristine Dahl for her new paper out in Rangeland Ecology & Management, Assessing variation in range health across grazed northern temperate grasslands. This work was funded by my SSHRC Insight Grant on sustainable grazing, and drew in Ed Bork at the University of Alberta who is an expert in rangeland systems. Based on rangeland health assessments and interviews across 28 cattle ranches in Alberta, this new paper provides some insight on how climate, pasture (native v. tame) and rotation interact. Grazing length had more impact on rangeland health than calculated stocking rates, with shorter grazing periods causing improvements in both tame and native pasture under aridity. There is also an indication that native grasslands grazed for shorter periods have lower weed prevalence and more litter, useful as mulch in dry conditions. Nice to see these relationships emerging across such a wide swath of Alberta (grassland, parkland/foothills and boreal) and in working rather than experimental conditions.

Soubry Editorial on COVID and Canadian food systems

A picture of Bernard Soubry farming I found floating around the web.

A picture of Bernard Soubry farming I found floating around the web.

Impressed by an editorial written for the Chronicle Herald by my PhD student Bernard Soubry, who has taken time from his final writing process to return to farm labour here in Nova Scotia. The editorial, COVID-19 shows what’s wrong with how Canada feeds itself, is a passionate and well-informed hit on Canada’s food system and dearth of adaptation plans. He writes:

But here’s a truth that researchers and rural communities have known for a long time: the food system in Canada doesn’t have a problem because of COVID-19. The food system is the problem.

On August 6, Bernard spoke to CBC Halifax’s Information Morning about his editorial; you can listen to that here.

MES opportunity for fall 2020 or 2021

** This position has now been filled **

I am still looking for an MES student to work on Mi’kmaw cultural ecosystem services in Bay of Fundy dykelands and salt marshes, starting either fall 2020 or 2021. This will explore how Mi’kmaq use and value the drained agricultural land (dykelands) and the salt marshes they replaced (and to which sections will return if abandoned or realigned). This student will become part of the Atlantic landscape case of NSERC ResNet, a national collaborative project designed to develop the utility of ecosystems service approaches for resolving complex resource decisions. Candidates should be socially curious, ideally trained in social science fields (e.g. first degrees in Geography, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Planning, etc.) and interested in qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews, ethnography, photo or map elicitation, etc. First Nation students are particularly encouraged to apply for this, but all applications are welcome. Our partner, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group, is offering the opportunity to embed within their organization to improve community integration, regardless of background. Email me if you are interested.

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