Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: land sparing

Chapter out on resilience and HM

Archtypal land sparing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape.

Archetypal land sparing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape.

Back in 2014 colleagues at Leuphana and I had a chapter accepted in a volume of Ecological Reviews on Agricultural Resilience: perspectives from ecology and economics. I’m delighted to be able to report that the volume is finally published, five years later. Our chapter looks at the resilience implications of land sharing and land sparing, using as a case study the southeastern sheep-wheat belt where co-author Joern Fischer and I did our postdocs back at ANU in the late 2000s.  We compared grazing archetypes of land sparing (fencing out dense woodlands for protection while continuously grazing the rest; see above) and land sharing (farmers using HM, who grazed intensively and rotationally pretty much everywhere on their farms, supporting scattered trees and their recruitment but few dense woodlands; see below). The resilience implications of these options are analyzed, integrating ecology, economics and social dimensions, and consistent with where the broader sharing/sparing debate has settled, reached the conclusion that a diversity of approaches is needed for system-wide sustainability.

Archetypal land sharing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape, thanks to HM

Archetypal land sharing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape thanks to HM to the left of the fence.

Some of my favourite parts of the chapter are the sample quotes included on the social challenges of adopting HM practices that draw from my 2008 photo-elicitation interviews with graziers across a range of practices. They speak to the mundane yet powerful barriers of change that come from our need for relationships and respect: for instance,  not having anything to talk to conventional farmers about at BBQs (“what will I open with?”), or having people think they’ve “lost the plot” and feeling the pressure after HM training to “go like a sheep and follow the rest” rather than convert. Such pressures align with some of what we’re hearing from HM trainers, too.

Meeting at Carleton’s Fahrig Lab

A diversity of scholars hard at work at Carleton on issues of sustainable agricultural landscape patterns and ecosystem services.

A diversity of scholars hard at work at Carleton on issues of sustainable agricultural landscape patterns and ecosystem services.

Thanks to Lenore Fahrig and her team at Carleton, as well as funding from NSERC, for the opportunity to participate yesterday in a meeting of minds about sustainable agricultural landscapes and ecosystem services. Significant snowfall created a cloistered feel and a productive mindset. While numbers were dominated by ecologists, agricultural and spatial scientists from universities, government and NGOs, it was a welcoming and collaborative environment, and ideas about the integration of social science research and stakeholder engagement were greeted enthusiastically.

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