Carolyn Mann’s first paper out of the HM project – Holistic Management and adaptive grazing: a trainers’ view – is online this morning at Sustainability, and open access. Ours is the first paper out in a special issue on Agroecology for the Transition towards Social-Ecological Sustainability. We just happened to have a draft ready when we heard about the special issue. Carolyn interviewed 25 HM or adaptive grazing trainers across Canada and the US to get a sense of how they see their training, and their trainees. Some interesting findings around gender, what it means to adopt, as well as the separability between the holistic planning and the specific grazing practices.
Next we developed a systems thinking statement concourse, in part using these interviews, and conducted Q-method online with 18 HM trainers and trainees to identify degrees and types of systems thinking. That paper is still in development, but a little teaser: gender again seems to play a role!
Late afternoon sun picks out a river course on West Falkland.
I am now back from my 3+ week immersion into the farming culture of the Falkland Islands, with 700 photos, 30 hours of interviews, 20 pages of observational notes, and a strong sense of my inadequacies as a specialist within a land of self-reliant generalists. Despite coming at the busiest time in the farming calendar – shearing and lamb marking – farmers were incredibly generous in their willingness to talk, and sometimes tour and host as well. My research assistant, Marilou Delignieres, went far beyond her role as recruiter, guide and driver, happily engaging in farm work and babysitting to help me get time with farmers. Her parents, Hugues and Marie-Paul, helped us with logistics, but also provided additional opportunities during my visit. I relished my discussions with members of a contract shearing gang then working at their farm Dunbar, and got to experience a cruise ship visit, one of the ways that many farmers here diversify their incomes and benefit from hosting penguin colonies and other wildlife. I travelled by 4×4, workboat (ferry) and Islander aircraft. I marveled at all scales: skies to ground cover. These memories will sustain me through the difficult transcription phase which follows such research, and support my subsequent analysis. Thanks to the OECD Co-operative Research Programme and Dalhousie’s Supplemental Sabbatical Fund for the fellowship funding to undertake this travel, and SSHRC for its support of Marilou.
Marilou throws a fleece in the Dunbar shearing shed, as Alex shears, Polly rousies, and Hugues and Marie-Paul look on, ready to class it.
Cruise ship tourists visiting Gentoo Penguins at Dunbar farm, with Death Head in the background – one of their tricker paddocks to gather sheep in.
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.
Advertisement for next weekend’s citizen jury on energy futures in NB.
The press release is finally out for next weekend’s New Brunswick Electrical Energy Futures Jury, when we are getting a range of interested citizens together to debate about the appropriate mix of energy sources for the province, and how to achieve it. Our team of energy researchers will be convening to help out with pre- and post-event surveys, and to listen to the discussions. We feel that such deliberative processes should help to avoid the tug-of-war characteristic of debates over particular infrastructure decisions, and look forward to seeing whether this is borne out in practice.
The Mactaquac Dam spillway, New Brunswick, on a foggy morning.
Our energy landscapes work is reaching a milestone with the defense of the first Masters student. Kristina Keilty will defend her MES thesis, titled ‘Understanding Landscape Values and Baselines of Acceptability on the Mactaquac Dam and Headpond, New Brunswick‘, in Rowe 5001 from 1-3 next Thursday, August 6th. These are open events, so all are welcome. Kristina extended our research with locals around the Mactaquac headpond, begun with our 2013 focus groups undertaken on a houseboat. These folks are currently facing an uncertain future due to the premature degradation of the Dam’s concrete sections. Local feelings are running high: come hear what future they would prefer to see, and why:
Due to the growing interest in sustainable energy futures, jurisdictions at all scales are exploring options to reduce dependencies on dwindling fossil fuel reserves and moving forward with renewable energy generation. In the pursuit of a sustainable energy future we have to understand not only the economic and environmental implications that renewable energy infrastructure will have but also the social implications of such a change. The purpose of this study was to understand how people can come to accept utilitarian energy infrastructure in the landscape. This study used a hydroelectric dam and headpond to understand public perception and landscape values. Dam removal and rebuilding decisions are going to increase as dams continue to age and the Mactaquac Dam offers us a case study to understand the emotions and values that citizens have felt throughout the life of a dam.