My  research on dykelands began with my SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2012-2015) on farm wetlands. I used those funds to explore public perceptions of Acadian dykelands in the face of climate change using a large-scale online Q-methodology survey, the pilot for which was partially supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (NSDA) in 2014. Factor analysis revealed four discrete discourses related to the management of Nova Scotia dykes and dykelands, and an understanding of what personal variables predict an adaptive (rather than mitigative) perspective (Sherren et al., 2016). Collaboration in 2015 found parallels with the drained agricultural land in the Po Delta, Italy, based on research in the lab of Davide Viaggi, University of Bologna, which produced a conference paper (Targetti et al. 2016).

Dykeland work has continued with new collaborations with Dr Danika van Proosdij, Saint Mary’s University, and her TransCoastal Adaptations network. Echoing landmark recent Dutch climate adaptation programs such as Making Space for Water and Room for the River, Making Room for Movement is layering environmental social science and planning research onto that restoration work, as well as looking beyond to look at a wider set of nature-based coastal adaptation options, including managed dyke realignment, coastal retreat and natural shorelines. A contract with the OECD led to us producing the Canadian chapter for a 2019  OECD report, Responding to Rising Seas, based on a dyke realignment project underway in Truro, NS (Sherren et al. 2019; Rahman et al. 2019); a workshop on the lessons was well-attended.

I then pitched dykelands as one of six landscape case studies nationally in a new NSERC Strategic Partnership Grant for Networks, ResNet, led by Elena Bennett at McGill. Co-leading the dykeland landscape case with Jeremy Lundholm, a plant ecologist from SMU with close links to the van Proosdij lab, we are wrapping a 5-year research programme around the decisions facing the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture as they decide how to modernize the dykeland system in the province. We will use ecosystem services as an organizing framework to work across and between disciplines to understand how to resolve contentious production landscape decisions. With a great team, we will start with a few years of primary data collection to fill gaps in our knowledge of ecosystem service delivery and beneficiaries of dykelands and wetlands in Nova Scotia. Later stages will include synthesis through scenarios and modeling.

Papers and chapters

Chen, Y., Caesemaecker, C., Rahman, H.M.T. and Sherren, K. 2020. Comparing cultural ecosystem service delivery in dykelands and marshes using Instagram: A case of the Cornwallis (Jijuktu’kwejk) River, Nova Scotia, Canada. Ocean and Coastal Management, 193, 105254.

Rahman, H. M. Tuihedur, Sherren, K. and van Proosdij, D. 2019. Institutional Innovation for Nature-Based Coastal Adaptation: Lessons from Salt Marsh Restoration in Nova Scotia, CanadaSustainability, 11 (23), 6735.

Sherren, K., Bowron, T., Graham, J. M., Rahman, H. M. Tuihedur and van Proosdij, D. 2019. Coastal infrastructure realignment and salt marsh restoration in Nova Scotia, Canada. Responding to Rising Seas: Comparing OECD Countries’ Approaches to Coastal Adaptation, Lisa Danielson Ed. (Organization for Economic Collaboration and Development: Paris, France).

Sherren, K., Loik, L and Debner, J.. 2016. Climate adaptation in ‘new world’ cultural agricultural landscapes: the case of Bay of Fundy dykelands (Nova Scotia, Canada)Land Use Policy, 51, 267-280.

Conference presentations

Targetti, S., Sherren, K., Raggi, M. and Viaggi, D. 2016. Contrasting perceptions of anthropogenic coastal agricultural landscape meanings and management in Italy and Canada. 19 April, 2016, Interdisciplinary Approaches in Climatic Change Research and Assessment session, European Geographical Union General Assembly, Vienna, AU.

Research trainees

H. M. Tuihedur Rahman, PhD, joined our collaborative SMU/Dalhousie team in July 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow, straight from his PhD work at McGill with Dr. Gordon Hickey. He is jointly funded by NRCan and DFO through grants led by Danika van Proosdij.

Krysta Sutton joined the team in 2018 to undertake an MES on Making Room for Movement. She has co-developed the materials for 16 focus groups with coastal residents of Nova Scotia, undertaken by video conference call in June and July 2019, and will use the text-based data as the basis of her MES. She is funded by NRCan (as an RA) and an Ocean Frontiers Institute seed grant.

Logan Loik, MREM 2015, undertook the Q-method pilot research in the Annapolis Valley/Cornwallis River, co-funded by SSHRC and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture to explore opportunities for managed realignment. He went from Dalhousie to being an energy efficiency Field Ambassador for the Summerhill Group.