Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Coasts (page 1 of 2)

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.

Falklands PPGIS paper out

Congratulations to Denise Blake for her paper, out today in Ocean and Coastal Management, Participatory mapping to elicit cultural coastal values for Marine Spatial Planning in a remote archipelago (free for 50 days). The paper is based on map-elicited cultural values mapping of the Falkland Islands coasts. This work was undertaken to inform the Marine Spatial Planning process underway in the Falklands, led by Amelie Auge, I really enjoyed advising on this project. The geographical and connectivity issues in the Falklands made a more typical web-based PPGIS (public participation GIS) process impossible, and so it called for careful design to elicit values from citizens.  The analysis revealed particular hotspots of local value, but also that people were not particularly attached to areas near them.

Angling for answers

Bilingual material about making space for shorebirds to rest this migration season.

Bilingual material about making space for shorebirds to rest this migration season.

As shorebirds start to arrive in the Bay of Fundy on their annual migration back south, it is a good time to report on our recent survey with striped bass anglers and outline our plans for the summer. We implemented an online survey with anglers who use key roosting sites in the Minas Basin, particularly ‘the Guzzle‘, to help us explore options for sharing beach space with migrating shorebirds at their high-tide resting period. This was in lieu of trying to assemble a workshop or focus group. The response was excellent, and we are now sharing the results here (PDF). On the basis of this feedback, and engagement with beach users in Avonport, our other key site, we have developed bilingual materials (above) that explain why, where and how to help shorebirds rest to ensure a successful migration back south: it’s a three-day trip over the Gulf of Mexico and they can’t swim! With anglers and other beach users we have identified lesser-used areas of each site to pilot setting aside at high tide for shorebird roosting, The back of the above card features a tide table that shows the times in August 2017 that we hope people will leave the sites for bird use, and signs at each place will explain further. We enjoyed this process of developing conservation ideas WITH beach users, many of whom are already great stewards of these birds. Space to Roost researcher Jaya Fahey will then be monitoring bird disturbance this year, as she did last year, and we’ll hope to see a difference.

Overheard… stakeholders

Sitting in Steve-o-Reno’s before last week’s holiday, over a coffee, I overheard an elderly woman describing her quest to eliminate coyotes on her farm. She worried for her grand-daughter after seeing six after the family dog. Her son told her she could only shoot one. First she soaked sponges in something delicious, hoping eating the sponges would make them sick. Coyotes stuck around. Then she smashed wine bottles to powder and made meatballs with the shards. That worked. Horrifying to hear, but an important reminder of challenges to biodiversity on farms. Threatening species often inspire responses that are disproportionate to the financial risks they represent; damaging species are the opposite.

I can sometimes be naive in how I engage with conservation stakeholder groups like farmers and anglers. I say to my collaborators, “I think most people want to know how to be ‘good'”. I encourage biologists to bring stakeholders into conservation discussions as experts and stewards. To assume the best rather than the worst. But it doesn’t always work. A survey we had in the field with anglers about shorebird conservation recently was trolled on Facebook by the head of an NB fishing group. He was discouraging anglers from participating in this research, because despite our collaborative intentions, the resulting paper may be used by others to refuse them access to beaches. It is disappointing to see that science is perceived as a threat.

It is perhaps characteristic of such groups to default to the most conservative mindset among their membership, leading from behind rather than out front. I found this interesting in the context of producer organizations. In research last year we found that Alberta groups with farmers as members (as opposed to their umbrella national organizations, often with organizations as members) tended to talk about weather instead of acknowledging climate change. It is not always this way, though. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, a frequent collaborator has been a strong advocate of “mainstreaming” biodiversity-friendly farming, as evident through their partnership on  Wood Turtle Strides.

Space to Roost partner meeting

Space to Roost project partners meeting at Acadia, January 26, 2017.

Space to Roost project partners meeting at Acadia, January 26, 2017.

Enjoyed meeting with Space to Roost project partners yesterday at Acadia, including the Blomidon Naturalists Society, Nature Conservancy Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, NS Department of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada. We met in a boardroom with gigantic chairs that made me feel kid-sized. It was a collaborative group, and we reviewed the results from last year’s baseline surveys of beach use and shorebird disturbance in the Minas Basin. I presented on the short interviews with beach users that our field assistant Jaya undertook while doing monitoring. We then developed priorities for this coming season, and brainstormed ideas for implementation. Thanks to BSC’s Sue Abbott for organizing and keeping us on track.

My presentation cover slide from the January 26, 2017, meeting of Space to Roost partners.

My presentation cover slide from the January 26, 2017, meeting of Space to Roost partners.

Older posts

© 2017 Kate Sherren

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑