Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Day 2 at ISSRM 2017

Hard to photograph a panel while you're on it: the ears of Stedman, Measham and Jacquet.

Hard to photograph a panel while you’re on it: the ears of Stedman, Measham and Jacquet.

1:30 am again so might as well reflect on another solid day at ISSRM.  A late start for me today thanks to that insomnia. First I had a fun mentoring session over lunch with two up-and-coming  female scholars, one finishing her PhD and one pre-tenure. I love participating in the mentoring program each year at ISSRM and appreciate folks like Paige Fischer organizing it.

Next I headed to an energy transitions panel (above) which was a bit of a follow-on from one I organized last year. This time Tom Measham (CSIRO) organized and chaired, and I served on the panel with Rich Stedman, Jeffrey Jacquet and keynote Neil Adger . It was a great turnout, and resulted in a really rich discussion about myths, subjectivity, governance and equity in the context of energy transitions. Lots of food for thought. We five started consuming that intellectual nourishment in barley form later at the ‘Pipes of Scotland’ bar which four of us closed down at midnight.

A subsection of the Norrbyskar scale model showing cable cars of sawdust heading for value adding.

A subsection of the Norrbyskar scale model showing cable cars of sawdust heading for value adding.

Immediately after the panel it was off to the field trips, mine to Norrbyskär, a fascinating island community that was designed around lumber production in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ruled on principles of temperance, paternalism, and clear social hierarchies, the island was entirely engineered: saw and planing mill joined by raised railways, and lumber drying structures everywhere not taken over by regimented housing and other buildings. Today the houses are occupied by seasonal residents, but the island hosts a great museum and cafe with a delightful scale model (left), and a miniature set of buildings for kids to play in. They had skilled and knowledgeable tour guides, and offered a diverse dinner of traditional swedish fare.

A wonderfully quirky addition was an end-of-year art exhibit by Umea Academy of Fine Arts students in an adjoining room. It was not obvious that the art show was open because of a downed banner at the entry. Turned out that was one of the art pieces: Josefine Ostlund’s We’re Building Natural Habitat (material description: “Banner from construction site”). Students visited in May and describe that they felt ‘watched’ by the empty houses, so reflect on the place in terms of “power, architecture and dreams”. It was wonderfully uncommercial work. Neil Adger’s favourite was Suffering is optional, by Linnea Johnels, material description “Beds, gun holes”, which she describes as “working with the frustration and worry that forces itself on you at night”. I can relate. Godnatt.

Neil Adger with Linnea Johnels 2017 piece, Suffering is optional.

Neil Adger with Linnea Johnels 2017 piece, Suffering is optional.

 

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.

Protecting wood turtles on farms

Guest post by Simon Greenland-Smith, Wood Turtle Strides project manager and MES alum 2014

An elusive wood turtle found is a good day.

An elusive wood turtle found is a good day (photo: Simon Greenland-Smith)

Working with species at risk almost never provides instant gratification. Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) are a long-lived, slow-to-mature species that have a bad habit of getting struck by farm equipment, often not making it to reproductive age. This has led to a steady decline in their populations in Nova Scotia and beyond. The same traits make their recovery a particular challenge.

Since August 2016, a collaborative team (Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change Canada and many other organizations) has been working on a novel approach to Wood Turtle conservation in Nova Scotia. Wood Turtle Strides is a program design to encourage farmers to sign stewardship agreements and implement Beneficial Management Practices that will help avoid striking and killing Wood Turtles. Uniquely, Wood Turtle Strides offers financial incentives to farmers that are designed to help farmers meet their production goals while also meeting their conservation goals. Time after time through surveys, interviews and other social science methods, we have learned that both these goals are important to farmers and striking a balance between them is a concept that resonates strongly with farmers. For instance, farmers can receive ‘per-hectare incentives’ to raise their mower blades above the maximum height of the turtles, increasing their chances of survival to reproductive age. Currently, Wood Turtle Strides has 7-9 enrolled farmers, but we are hoping to attract around 30 farms and sign incentive-based stewardship agreements worth over $100K (CAD).

Found one!

Found one!

Wood Turtles live a slow life, and working toward their conservation can be equally slow, but finding Wood Turtles alive and well in the wild can be particularly rewarding. It certainly keeps the energy high among the Wood Turtle Strides team!

For more info on Wood Turtle Strides visit farmbiodiversity.ca/strides. Also, keep an eye out for our new Wood Turtle animated video which will be available (along with two other great animations on biodiversity-friendly farming) on our extension  YouTube channel (Kate says, “we have a YouTube channel?”).

Bibliometric paper on HM is out

Factions in Savory-citers based on bibliometric coupling.

Factions in Savory-citers based on bibliometric coupling.

There has been a great irony in my first sabbatical: it has been publication-free. More things in process than I can easily monitor but nothing in hand. Until today, barely three weeks before sabbatical end. Phew! Today the first paper is out in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems from my SSHRC-funded project on adaptive grazing approaches like holistic management. This paper, Who’s afraid of Allan Savory? Scientometric polarization on Holistic Management as competing understandings, is based on Carlisle Kent’s bibliometric work on HM in the summer of 2015. This used papers citing Allan Savory’s work on HM, as found in Web of Science, to understand the structure of research on the topic. General descriptives allowed us to see the changing nature of that work, geographically and in terms of discipline. Bibliometric coupling revealed distinct factions in terms of the kind of work being used to support papers (i.e. the reference lists) and that those factions seemed to align with disciplines as well as positions on HM. A number of recommendations are discussed around how farmers, advocates, researchers and policy-makers can work to resolve the competing understandings.

Everything Now!

A balm to my sketchy mood on this unsettled Friday is Arcade Fire’s new anthem of consumerism, Everything Now. Besides its irresistible groove, the video is a showcase of energy landscapes and other used up utilitarian infrastructure, and the lyrics skewer the attitudes that propagate our footprint:

Every inch of sky’s got a star
Every inch of skin’s got a scar
I guess that you’ve got everything now

The only way it could be more perfect for my research program would be if there were some livestock trundling through that rangeland. Happy weekend, everyone.

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