Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: dykelands

New postdoc opening: Social Dynamics of Nature-based Coastal Adaptation

Wild child with storm surge, Regatta Point, March 3, 2018.

Wild child with storm surge, Regatta Point, March 3, 2018.

As of March 21, DEADLINE EXTENDED to April 15, 2018 for May start.
Thanks to a recent funding decision I’m circulating a new postdoctoral fellowship opportunity to work on a project with Dr Danika van Proosdij and I. This postdoc will be based in Danika’s lab at Saint Mary’s University, and work closely with us both to lead landscape social science around nature-based coastal adaptations such as dykeland realignment, salt marsh restoration, managed retreat and natural shorelines. This postdoc will support the new Making Room for Movement project and be part of an emerging interdisciplinary community of practice in the region on coastal climate adaptation. It could hardly be more timely, given the significant storm surge we’ve had the past few days. Please help me spread the good news!

 

Summer student opportunity on human/shorebird conflict

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Bird Studies Canada currently has year 1 funding (NS Habitat Conservation Fund) for a three-year project, Space to Roost, understanding human-bird conflict in important roosting sites along the Minas Basin during shorebird migrations in late summer. This funding includes support to hire a Nova Scotia (6-months prior residency) student the summer of 2016. This will be our first year of a 3-year project. We will be conducting human-use audits at 3-4 roost sites to gather baseline information at sites during peak fall migration (July – August) to understand spatial and temporal use of recreational activities (e.g., fishermen, swimmers, dog walkers) and other human-induced threats. The summer student position will require someone with an interest in outreach who’s not shy about approaching people, initiating conversations with individuals at roost sites, and contacting user group representatives. Basically, this first field season will lay the ground work for developing and piloting conservation strategies to reduce human pressures at roost sites in year two. The role would best suit a student entering their last year of a conservation, recreation or environmental studies degree. Someone who is seeking to collect data for a final year Honours thesis would be ideal, and perhaps even someone interested in continuing on to a funded MES on the topic. Please contact me if you are interested.

Waterland

The cover of my copy of Waterland, picked up by someone who knows me well at a secondhand book sale.

The cover of my copy of Waterland, picked up by someone who knows me well at a secondhand book sale.

I recently re-read Waterland, by Graham Swift, which won the Booker Prize in 1983. It’s a remarkable combination of fenland geography, biographical mythology, environmental/industrial history, and thriller. I think you may need to be into wetlands to get through some of his passages, and certainly be comfortable with a fragmented temporal axis, but it is my kind of storytelling. It is funny – there’s this wonderful bit where he discusses how flat landscapes like the fenlands encourage lustiness – and the main characters are solid. As with much of what I record here, I also see parallels between my recreational reading and my research. This is a book about place, cultural landscapes, and adaptation. In the wake of my more recent research on dykelands, for instance, a late passage seemed particularly interesting upon this second read:

There’s this thing called progress. But it doesn’t progress. It doesn’t go anywhere. Because as progress progresses the world can slip away. It’s progress if you can stop the world slipping away. My humble model for progress is the reclamation of land. Which is repeatedly, never-endingly retrieving what is lost. A dogged and vigilant business. A dull yet valuable business. A hard, inglorious business. But you shouldn’t go mistaking the reclamation of land for the building of empires. (p. 291)

 

New paper on dykeland futures

Graphical abstract for a new paper in Land Use Policy on dykeland futures in Nova Scotia.

Graphical abstract for a new paper in Land Use Policy on dykeland futures in Nova Scotia.

Pleased to have a new paper out in Land Use Policy with former MREM intern Logan Loik on how Nova Scotians perceive agricultural dykelands in the face of climate change. Bay of Fundy dykelands are Canada’s only UNESCO-listed agricultural landscapes because of their origins in the 1600s with French settlers.  These structures protect little active farmland today, but governance is still in the hands of the farming sector. They are more often used for recreation, or to protect residential, commercial or transportation infrastructure. Climate projections suggest considerable effort and expense will be required to raise all dykes to the levels necessary to withstand sea level rise and storm surges, but it may be that decommissioning some dykes and restoring coastal wetlands may be more resilient. We asked 183 Nova Scotians to sort statements about dykelands, wetlands and coastal governance. The dominant discourse from this Q-method study was supportive of maintaining dykelands for recreational, cultural and flood protection reasons; the next most prevalent was pragmatically supportive of wetland restoration for efficiency purposes. Results suggest challenges for the process of managed realignment, as well as climate adaptation in cultural landscapes more generally, but also some new analytical opportunities for large-n Q-method research.

Wetland/Dykeland book launch

New books by Rod Giblett and Gregory Kennedy

New books by Rod Giblett and Gregory Kennedy

I attended an excellent book launch on Sunday for two new volumes related to wetlands and their cultural perceptions and use. The event was appropriately held at the Landscape of Grand Pré visitor’s centre, which commemorates the Acadian culture that arose on ‘reclaimed’ Bay of Fundy marshland in the 1600s. The site is Canada’s only cultural agricultural landscape listed by UNESCO for World Heritage. The event was hosted by Rob Summerby-Murray, lately the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences here at Dalhousie, and now President at Saint Mary’s University, whose own scholarship on the Tantramar marshes nicely tied the two topics together. The discussion that followed was rich, focussing largely on the Grand Pré landscape itself, as a case study of place, culture, ecosystem and landscape management challenges, particularly in the face of climate change, as my own recent research on dykelands (still in review) has found.

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