Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: Falklands (page 2 of 3)

Departure day for the Falklands

The long range forecast for the Falklands shows it really is British.

The long range forecast for the Falklands shows it really is British.

Still a long list of to-do, but later today I depart for a month in the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory near Patagonia, to talk to livestock farmers about their landscape and how they manage it. This is work funded by the OECD Cooperative Research Programme, with additional support from Dalhousie’s Supplemental Sabbatical Leave funding, as well as my SSHRC on sustainable grazing. There is patchy and expensive internet coverage, so I don’t expect to be able to blog often, but I will when I can.


Mitacs Globalink interviews and rankings

Thursday and Friday this week I had skype interviews with five upper-year undergraduate candidates for my Mitacs Globalink internship opportunities on Sustainable Landscapes and Seascapes in the Falkland Islands. What a remarkable group of young people! Four Chinese candidates and one from India, all skilled in geomatics and with a wide range of other diverse interests, engaged me in clear English conversation on diverse areas of my scholarship and their own interests. I was very impressed, and the subsequent ranking process was very difficult. I hope they all find a satisfying post under this excellent program. A successful internship also provides them access to funded Masters fellowships in Canada.

Cultural values of Falkland coasts

Header of the piece in Penguin News on Denise Herrera's cultural values mapping work.

Header of the piece in Penguin News on Denise Herrera’s cultural values mapping work.

Denise Herrera has just returned from ‘Camp’ (countryside) of the Falkland Islands, with data from thirty interviews with residents about what coastal areas they value and why. Denise is a research assistant for the cultural values mapping element of the Darwin Plus-funded Marine Spatial Planning project run by Dr Amelie Auge. I’m helping out on methods and interpretation. She’ll compile those locations and classifications into a map to include in the planning for marine conservation areas in the Falklands. Denise is now looking for participants in the main town of Stanley, and has advertised for participants via a full-page story on her work in the local weekly, Penguin News.

Science & Diplomacy

Ray is a keen birder, and captured this picture of King Penguins on the move at Volunteer Point.

Ray is a keen birder, and captured this picture of King Penguins on the move at Volunteer Point.

A summary of the Pan-American Scientific Delegation to the Falklands appeared recently in Science and Diplomacy, penned by Ray Arnaudo and Dr Lindsay Chura, American diplomat and British Embassy science advisor, respectively. The piece is a useful reminder of the underlying ethos of the Delegation: the naturally collaborative nature of science builds bridges. This is important amidst continuing tensions with Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). The Falklands have mostly looked to the UK for research collaborations (viz: the Shackleton award), but need to strengthen their networks in the region, as a nation to its neighbours, and where ecosystems are shared.

Mitacs Globalink internship opportunities for Summer 2016

Landrovers, researchers and penguins on a Falklands beach, January 2015 (photo: Carlos Andrade Amaya)

Landrovers, researchers and penguins on a Falklands beach, January 2015 (photo: Carlos Andrade Amaya)

A Canadian program called Mitacs Globalink brings high-achieving upper-year undergraduate students to Canada to work with researchers for 12 weeks. Eligible countries this year include Australia (a new addition), Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Vietnam. Applications are now open here for North American summer 2016 (closing Sept 24, 2015). It is a great program: it is currently funding Joy Wang to work in my lab monitoring tree cover under grazing via Google Earth Pro. For Summer 2016 I have submitted opportunities for two students on my new sustainable tourism landscapes and seascapes research work in the Falklands (see also here, if you are looking for a Masters project in this area). Broadly, one project is on spatial science, land cover and ecology, and the other related to ecotourism, visual sociology and social media. I am looking forward to interviewing this year’s crop of applicants later this fall. A summary of the above project (#7229) follows, but for more details, go to the Mitacs Globalink website.

The Falkland Islands are a remote British Overseas Territory east of Patagonia with a limited and contested land mass, unique ecosystem (including five species of penguins), and a historical reliance on renewable ecosystem goods and services to support its people, particularly grazing and fishing. Cruise ship tourism has become an increasingly important part of the local economy, and more recently, oil and gas exploration offshore has led to development for extraction. These four sectors interconnect in interesting and challenging ways and all have impacts on the local community and supporting ecosystems. I am using social and spatial methods to explore these landscape issues.

Two research projects within this larger domain are based on existing and secondary datasets and appropriate for involvement by short-term undergraduate research projects. The first is the use of existing GIS and aerial/satellite imagery going back 60 years to explore the impact on land cover of increasing numbers of tours to the King Penguin rookery at Volunteer Point. Poor transportation infrastructure outside of the main town of Stanley means that such tours are undertaken in Landrovers, sometimes tens of them at a time, which often fan out to avoid becoming bogged in peat.  Specifically, is repeated vehicle traffic increasing the amount of ponding in the peatlands being traversed, or otherwise changing vegetation cover? Can such patterns be linked to visitor numbers?

The second project will use social media to explore perceptions of the Falklands land and seascape as oil and gas exploration begins. Software can be used to extract rich observations in the form of text and photo from Twitter and Instagram, using either hashtags or geotags. These data can be analyzed to explore the visibility of oil and gas infrastructure, and understand perceived tradeoffs that this industry presents for the community, ecology and economy.


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