Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Month: September 2017

New paper – precondition for integration

Australian grazier Gary Johnson, appraising tree decline on his farm, 2010.

Australian grazier Gary Johnson, appraising tree decline on his farm, 2010.

A year ago this week I was in Portugal, where I presented and co-convened a session at the World Congress of Silvo-pastoral Systems. The invite came as a result of my work on tree decline under grazing in Australia, though I used the opportunity to present synthesis work emerging from more recent work on Holistic Management.  The best keynote at the event was by Ika Darnhofer, an Austrian scholar, with whom I struck up a correspondence after the event. When news came that a special issue of Rangeland Ecology and Management was planned for the Integrative stream of the conference, Ika and I collaborated on a short commentary piece.  It was published online today, the first of those in the special issue. Each of us had been frustrated by the primacy of natural science within key journals and projects, so our commentary argues for greater openness to stand-alone social science research (particularly qualitative social science) in problem-based agricultural journals. Instead, editors have one-by-one closed their doors to social science unless in integration with natural sciences. I like to think of it as picking up where Nathan Sayre left off in 2004.

In the summary I prepared for Rangelands, the more producer-focused magazine also run by the Society for Range Management, the paper is summarized as follows:

The voices of pastoralists, farmers, and ranchers are hard to hear in rangeland and silvopastoral research, although they make the management choices. Researchers call for integration across academic disciplines to improve decision-making, but what seems to be forgotten is that robust disciplines are needed first. Is social science around rangelands and silvopastoral systems healthy, or is it being given a service role to natural science? Key journals are biased toward natural science, fragmenting social science insight and discouraging new scholars. Journals welcoming standalone social science will grow the discipline and incorporate land manager knowledge, strengthening research outcomes and their application.

New year, new challenges

The mainland side of the Canso causeway, you can see the additional transmission capacity being constructed in preparation for the Maritime Link from Labrador's Muskrat Falls.

The mainland side of the Canso causeway, you can see the additional transmission capacity being constructed in preparation for the Maritime Link from Labrador’s Muskrat Falls.

Things are quiet on the blog as I start a new term (and new course, and new Senate term) after a year’s sabbatical.  A forced trip to Cape Breton increased the pressure, though it also occasioned reminders of my day job. I ran into Ducks Unlimited Canada collaborators in Sydney. We saw energy infrastructure being reinforced in preparation for the Maritime Link (above), as well as clear evidence of coastal storm damage that may have climate links (below). Right before term started I was asked by Natural Resources Canada to be the coordinating lead author for the Atlantic Canada chapter of the new National Climate Change Assessment. The last one was in 2008.  A daunting but welcome opportunity to serve.

A damaged boardwalk at Port Hood, Cape Breton.

A damaged boardwalk at Port Hood, Cape Breton.

© 2017 Kate Sherren

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑