Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: conference (page 2 of 4)

Day 1 at ISSRM 2017

Sunrise at 2:15 am, midsommer in north Sweden.

Sunrise at 2:15 am, midsommer in north Sweden.

It’s 2:30 am in Umea, Sweden, and I’m still awake. Why? Because I know this is happening (above). Outside my window the three hour twilight that passes for night this time of the year at almost 64 degrees north has surrendered again to the sun. And my body knows it and wants me up, damn the blackout curtains. So it seems a reasonable opportunity for a day 1 recap here at ISSRM.

The organizers were kind to arrange a 10 am start, which launched with a keynote by Neil Adger. He explored how population challenges our capacity to cope with climate, and not in the “boring” ways like how many people there are. He looked at lifecourse, migration and place, synthesizing across many studies. A memorable line that echoes much of my thinking right now: “identity trumps risk”.

After lunch came a two-part session on Enhancing Private Land Stewardship that I organized with Mike Sorice, of Virginia Tech, though he couldn’t make it to the conference this year. A diverse mix of perspectives on how to understand and influence farmers motivations to engage in conservation. I presented our survey work on Wood Turtle Strides, standing in for Mhari and Simon.

Stefano Targetti checks out the cool traditional fences at Gammli museum.

Stefano Targetti checks out the cool traditional fences at Gammli museum.

The poster sessions were inventively placed in one of those ‘living’ historical museums, the Gammlia, where they kept some buildings open for us and brought in a few reindeer. Seemed cruel to eat reindeer soup while hanging out with reindeer, but so we did, and it was delicious. The fences were particularly novel (right); to avoid weak spots at joins, eliminate joins. Some great posters among those I saw, my favourite being one on an interesting photo survey about urban wetlands by Tanja Straka at the University of Melbourne.

We finished up with a late beer and meal with some of the Canadian contingent at the Bishop’s Arms pub. Tomorrow night…  that is, tonight, I’ll cower inside like a vampire and try to fool myself that it’s dark outside.

Some of the Canadian contingent at ISSRM 2017, about 10:30 pm near midsommer.

Some of the Canadian contingent at ISSRM 2017, about 10:30 pm near midsommer.

Yan Chen at IAIA in Montreal

Yan Chen chatting with another attendee at IAIA 2017 in Montreal.

Yan Chen chatting with another attendee at IAIA 2017 in Montreal.

Congratulations to Yan Chen, who represented Energy Transitions in Canada at this year’s International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) meeting in Montreal. Climate change was the main theme this year. This conference is less academic than most she has attended and includes many people from the private sector and government departments, including consultants ‘selling’ their new services and tools. Her presentation, Using geo-tagged social media data to map landscape values, was in the second half of the session titled “Digital Impact Assessment”, Wednesday afternoon, April 5th, along with two other presenters focused on pipelines. She talked about her work using Instagram to understand landscape values around hydroelectricity proposals in BC (Site C) and NB (Mactaquac). She was keeping an eye out for the team about news around new SIA tools leveraging social media, but didn’t see much.

 

Tchau, World Congress on Silvo-Pastoral Systems

Guillermo Martinez Pastur questions Aida López-Sánchez during WG 1 at the World Congress on Silvo Pastoral Systems in Evora, Portugal.

Guillermo Martinez Pastur questions Aida López-Sánchez during WG 1 at the World Congress on Silvo Pastoral Systems in Evora, Portugal.

I am just back from Evora, Portugal, for the first World Congress on Silvo-Pastoral Systems. On the basis of my spatial background and postdoc work on scattered tree grazing systems in Australia I co-convened with Argentinian Guillermo Martinez Pastur working group 1 on mapping and assessing large-scale trends. But I myself presented in working group 14 on integrative approaches, synthesizing bibliometric and rhetoric work with Carlisle Kent last year on my new grant on holistic grazing management to outline three reasons for polarization on HM and five ways to avoid it. The conference was diverse and extremely worthwhile, showing the value of problem- or landscape-focused conferences over disciplinary ones. I enjoyed connecting to young and established scholars of cultural ecosystem services, integrative research, and landscape analysis. Paired keynotes by Guy Beaufoy (about EU policy interactions) and Ika Darnhofer (on farmer adoption) were particularly rich in insight.

Jesus rests on a cork earth in a diorama at the Igreja de São Francisco.

Jesus rests on a cork earth in a diorama at the Igreja de São Francisco.

A surprise pleasure was a day spent visiting pastoral/Montado grazing properties, riding the bus alongside Lynn Huntsinger, co-author of the 2014 critical commentary on my post-doctoral work that inspired my new grant on HM. Interesting combinations of livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep) and trees (cork, pine nut) were explored on the farms we visited. Later I saw signs of the importance of cork for this culture: cork used as a symbol of earth itself (right).

The UNESCO-listed host community of Evora is a fascinating place, and while we had little time amidst the events to explore, I managed to take in the Capela dos Ossos (bone chapel) during a quick trip to the Pharmacy for something to ease my now-characteristic if tiresome conference cold symptoms. I very much regret not making it to the Fórum Eugénio de Almeida, which:

…is a space designed for the promotion of artistic and cultural actions guided by social responsibility and sustainable practices, committed to a multidisciplinary, instructive and inclusive programme…

I was intrigued by the museum’s exterior, which sported a huge vertical banner reading “What’s Past is Prologue”, as well as writing along the fence at the rear saying “Everything is a Story”. Both were poignant, sitting next to ruins of a first-century Roman temple, along with more recent (but still old) water tower, cathedral, convent, and palace. It feels like a place that has found a way to layer history without much sacrifice of past or future.

A fence is blazoned with Everything is a Story, bookended by a Roman temple and a water tower.

A fence is blazoned with Everything is a Story, bookended by a Roman temple and a water tower.

The 16th century University of Évora itself was a luxurious space to spend extended time, with marble arches and floors, half-tiled walls and many, many tiny cups of coffee. We were there during a period of extensive hazing of first years by upperclassmen and women, the latter wearing full black suits and capes (unthinkable in the heat). Their classrooms are a tourist attraction, as well as a conference location, which must be strange for them. I snuck into the 18th century Geografia room, which had an impressive raised pedestal for the professor and tiled murals representing the elements, the seasons and the continents (see America, below).

I would have liked to be in this American Geography class.

I would have liked to be in this American Geography class.

Canadian Society for Bioengineering panel

Kenny Corscadden moderates the CSBE panel with David Burton, Peter Swinkels, Charles Bourque and me.

Kenny Corscadden moderates the CSBE panel with David Burton, Peter Swinkels, Charles Bourque and me.

Yesterday I was invited to participate in a four-person panel discussing “the impact of climate change on sustainable food production; minimizing on-farm climate related risks“, at the Canadian Society for Bioengineering meeting currently  being held in Halifax. As a social scientist (certainly the only one on the panel, possibly in the room) I really enjoyed the opportunity to engage with individuals tackling the technical solutions to climate change mitigation (e.g. bioenergy) and adaptation (e.g. water management) about social license and political will. Contributions covered some challenges and solutions, including meeting the increasing unpredictability of agricultural inputs with a resilience approach, re-engineering landscapes for ecosystem function and diversity. I also discussed the importance of understanding farmer perceptions and uptake of new techniques and technologies, increasingly challenging given the dearth of spatial and social science data infrastructure (e.g. farmer databases for surveys, commodity and soils maps) and given the poor state of agricultural extension in this country. Tradition is a powerful thing in agricultural settings, and what it means to be a ‘good farmer’ will take time to shift, for farmers and policy-makers. We have a limited set of policy instruments: information (education), persuasion (moral appeals), assistance (incentives) and regulation, but perhaps the most important of all is to look first – before making new policy – to see if there are any perverse policies in place that discourage useful action. Perverse incentives that encourage the delaying of adaptation, like event-based insurance, serve as buffers that will not prepare farming well for new climate futures.

ISSRM 2016 adieu

Early arrivals at the Friday ISSRM BBQ beside Lake Superior marvel at what seems like the end of the world.

Early arrivals at the Friday ISSRM BBQ beside Lake Superior marvel at what seems like the end of the world.

I have been back from ISSRM for a week, but haven’t had time to reflect on the final day of the conference, or the day of energy team meetings that followed. The second day concluded with a great beachside picnic on Lake Superior, on one of that lake’s few very still days. The horizon was just a haze, without even the typical mirage of something beyond. I enjoyed numerous pasties (in honour of the Cornish miners who settled the copper-rich area), some frisbee with Jim Robson, new appointment at USask, and great covers by scholar Paul van Auken’s band up from Oshkosh, WI.

Saturday at ISSRM began with a keynote by Riley Dunlap on climate change denial, after which I enjoyed a diverse session on risks and hazards. At lunch a dramatic storm rolled in, keeping me from Allan Curtis‘ session on farmer identity, though I did make (damply) the rest of his well-chaired session on agricultural adoption and transitions. The final session I attended featured Dylan Bugden‘s new thinking about power and justice in energy siting, which developed into a great discussion, though I had to miss Tom Beckley’s follow-up on the NB citizen jury as a result.

The energy team meeting at Michigan Tech, with two on speakerphone.

The energy team meeting at Michigan Tech, with two on speakerphone.

Sunday the energy group met for breakfast at local Finnish diner Suomi for some of the local speciality, pannekakku (a custardy pancake) and some more ‘distinctive’ Michigan table service. Then back to Michigan Tech and various spots for meetings and meals, as well as attempting to remedy my then dramatic caffeine deficiency (so sad I discovered 5th and Elm so late in the trip!), culminating in a nice pizza meal at the Ambassador. The shuttle came early, which was good since I discovered upon getting to the airport that my return ticket had been mysteriously cancelled. They found me a route home, though longer than planned, but I was glad to take it.

Dalhousie plus one: Yan, Simon, Taylor, John and Kate at the Ambassador, Houghton, MI.

Dalhousie plus one: Yan, Simon, Taylor, John and Kate at the Ambassador, Houghton, MI.

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