Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Author: k8sherren (page 2 of 41)

New role on NS Biodiversity Council

St. Andrews Marsh, May 21, 2018.

St. Andrews Marsh, May 21, 2018.

Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity, and I’m pleased to announce I was appointed to the new Biodiversity Council for Nova Scotia. The other members are Dr Donna Hurlburt (Aboriginal Advisor at Acadia University, Mi’kmaq ecologist, and conservation biologist), Dr. Graham Forbes (Professor at UNB), and Peter Oram (Senior Environmental Specialist at GHD). From the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announcement press release:

The goals of the Council are:

  1. Identify strategic priorities for work, including regulations, under a Biodiversity Act,
  2. Identify knowledge gaps and provide advice on using the ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use,
  3. Advise on approaches and priorities for research, data gathering, and management,
  4. Make recommendations to the Minister on emerging and evolving biodiversity issues.

 …

The Council’s work will include supporting the development of a Biodiversity Act, a project under the strategic priority “Our Natural Resources.” The purpose of the Act is to further enable Nova Scotia to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species and ecosystems in flexible and adaptive ways, address legislative gaps and manage emerging risks.

I’ve been working with DNR folks like Glen Parsons and John Brazner for years on social science about biodiversity conservation on farms, coasts and wetlands, and will be pleased to be of service.

Jaya wins BoFEP student award

Jaya Fahey receives the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting student award, May 11, 2018.

Jaya Fahey receives the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting student award, from DFO scientist Blythe Chang, May 11, 2018.

I spent Friday at the 12th Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership meeting, held every two years. This year’s conference featured a theme on dykelands and salt marshes, convened by new collaborators Danika van Proosdij and Tony Bowron. I presented my 2014/2015 Q-method research that identified discourses around dykeland futures, which is getting long in the tooth but is helping to inform my new work in those landforms. The largely natural science audience was quite receptive to social science messages, including my suggestion that their outreach is heavily based on the ‘deficit model’ of environmental communication, which has been proven not to work. I missed MES student Jaya Fahey’s presentation on the Thursday about her work on Space to Roost, but was pleased to hear she won the student award, which included a research volume and certificate as well as a $100 cash prize. I saw some pretty great student presentations, so it was stiff competition. Congratulations, Jaya!

Cornell Energy Incubator

Dylan Bugden chairs our discussion of research best practice.

Dylan Bugden chairs our discussion of research best practice.

Excellent first day here at the ‘Energy Incubator’ invited meeting here at Cornell, sponsored by Rich Stedman‘s social science fellowship at the Atkinson Centre for a Sustainable Future. Mostly Americans, save for Tom Beckley and Louise Comeau (UNB) and I, this group is gender- and experience-balanced and engaged in research across a range of energy/society issues: landscape, justice, gender, ‘booms’, impacts on other industries (ag), etc.

Getting started at the Energy Incubator.

Getting started at the Energy Incubator.

We started with short bursts on the more or less ‘half-baked’ ideas people pitched up before we came–at the half-baked end I talked about my ideas for an enpathy engine (that is, energy empathy) to combat climax thinking. We then brainstormed best practice for energy impacts research and broke into groups for some more focused discussions, which is what we’ll spend today doing. We then had a chance to explore the stunning Ithaca campus on the way to dinner.

The small hydro facility on the Cornell campus.

The small hydro facility on the Cornell campus.

Our meeting today was held in a beautiful centre at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, but the gracious campus buildings are also nestled beside stunning gorges that tumble down to the townsite. There is even a small hydroelectricity dam that provides power to the campus (probably a project of the Engineering school)? Sign me up, Cornell. 

Ithaca is Gorges!

Ithaca is Gorges!

Jeffrey Jacquet tours us around Cornell's gorges.

Jeffrey Jacquet tours us around Cornell’s gorges.

Congrats to Reg Newell

Reg Newell receives the NSIA Honorary Member Award from NSFA's Kathryn Bremner

Reg Newell receives the NSIA Honorary Member Award from NSFA’s Kathryn Bremner, Truro, April 25, 2018. Photo Glen Parsons

Quick note to say congratulations to Reg Newell, recently retired as the Nova Scotia – Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Stewardship Coordinator at NS Department of Natural Resources, for his Honorary Member Award from the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists. Lovely that the award was presented by another one of our favourite people in my lab, Kathryn Bremner (NS Environmental Farm Planner) of the NS Federation of Agriculture. Reg and Kathryn have been critical to our work on biodiversity-friendly farming, including our assessment of the Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation program, the BioLOG website that came out of it, and Wood Turtle Strides that came out of that.  Bravo, Reg!

New Orleans in the rear view

The final of 50 parade floats in the Chalmette Irish, Italian and Isleno parade, where they not only throw beads and trinkets, but also vegetables, fruit, and here, toilet paper.

The final of 50 parade floats in the Chalmette Irish, Italian and Isleno parade, where they not only throw beads and trinkets, but also vegetables, fruit, and here, toilet paper.

It has a sprint since getting back from AAG in New Orleans. It was my first time at that epic event, spread across several downtown hotels. I was surprised to actually run into people I knew from other organizations like IASNR and topics like rangelands, ecosystem services and climate adaptation that I didn’t necessarily connect with Geography, including MES alum Paul Sylvestre, now doing a PhD at Queens. Didn’t lay eyes on my Dalhousie colleagues, however, without effort.

Geography is big enough in its traditional form, but it has expanded and become much more problem-based than the Australian Geographer’s Association meeting in 2005 after which I swore off Geography conferences (that one kept human, physical and spatial geographers in never-the-twain separate sessions irregardless of topic). Happily surprised, I attended four or five of the Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation special sessions organized by the Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, which had many highlights but particularly memorable were Hannah Gosnell’s talk on happiness and regenerative grazing (HM) in Australia, and Neil Adger’s speech after his lifetime achievement award, as well as his former postdoc Don Nelson’s moving tribute. I was pleased with the content if not the crowd size in the two sessions in which I participated, on Recycling Energy Landscapes and (via Mike Smit on our new SSHRC) in Computation for Public Engagement in Complex Problems: From Big Data, to Modeling, to Action.

Phase 3 of a 3-phase demonstration of the value of wetland buffers in protecting cities from storm action in the Cabildo Museum.

Phase 3 of a 3-phase demonstration of the value of wetland buffers in protecting cities from storm action in the Presbytere Museum.

It was grand to be back in New Orleans after 16 years, even through a deluge event with flood warnings. I was lucky to get into my old apartment which was wide open, being gutted for renovation. My old boulangerie is still there (though the fougasse is not as I recall), and the streetcars still charm. The French Quarter Festival was on – all local music – and the best food we found was offered by ex-military cajun Adam Lee out of a small pub kitchen uptown in Prytania Hall. A muffuletta sandwich from the Central Grocery, eaten in the sun in front of Jackson Square listening to a brass band, came second. Nothing else came close. Very cool to see ‘planning for water’ and the importance of wetland buffers highlighted in the Presbytere’s museum installation on Katrina.

Erstwhile Fazendeville, Chalmette Battlefield

Erstwhile Fazendeville, Chalmette Battlefield

On our last day in town we ventured east, Ubering through the Lower 9th Ward (hit hardest by Katrina) onward to Chalmette, which was having its Irish, Italian and Isleno (Canary Islander) parade (see top picture). For some reason lost to time those on floats pelt paradegoers with fruit and vegetables, as well as the usual plastic beads and trinkets. Potatoes, carrots, CABBAGES: I even saw someone holding a pineapple. We killed some time first at the Chalmette Battlefield, where American forces beat off the British in 1814. Alongside the straining levee, the Mississippi running high after the deluge, the cemetery and battlefield were very wet. Crayfish chimneys were all over the wet lawn of the former battlefield. I was saddened as much by the story of Fazendeville as by the earlier loss of life . Quoting from the plaque:

Jean Pierre Fazende, a free man of colour and New Orleans grocer, inherited land within the battlefield in 1857. After the Civil War, he divided it and sold it to freed slaves from local plantations. Eventually the community grew to more than 200 people and became known as Fazendeville. The National Park Service bought the land in 1966 after long, contentious negotiations.

Where did they move to? Mostly the New Orleans 9th Ward, that area so hard hit by Katrina. What a bad joke. The old main street is visible only as a linear depression today, but the plaque says the community still meets. Like the residents of Africville here in Halifax, or former residents of what is now the Gagetown weapons range in New Brunswick, they have reunions and otherwise somehow keep the community alive after being forcibly removed.

Chalmette Battlefield Cemetery, inundated

Chalmette Battlefield Cemetery, inundated

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