Quick on the heels of Gardenio’s first thesis paper, below, his second paper is out today in Journal of Environmental Management: Using news coverage and community-based impact assessments to understand and track social effects using the perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers. This paper allows us to look at two of the ‘state of the art’ SIAs in recent years, for the Site C and Keeyask hydro projects. Each used a community-based approach where affected First Nations were funded to create their own impact assessment documents for consideration by the panel, yet the public discourse differs dramatically. We compared those documents with longitudinal media coverage to understand the longer term perspectives of affected people and decisionmakers in each case, a data source much more available than any formal monitoring in Canada. This allowed us to explore the potential of such datasets as suggested in this 2017 paper published about modernizing SIA.
Hot on the heels of Gardenio da Silva’s MES thesis defense, his first paper is out this morning in Energy Research & Social Science, Do methods used in social impact assessment adequately capture impacts? An exploration of the research-practice gap using hydroelectricity in Canada. Gardenio reviewed publicly available social impact assessments (SIAs) from 37 hydroelectricity projects in Canada to see what methods are being used to understand baseline conditions and anticipate impacts. Not surprisingly, the methods are dominated by open houses and census-based input/output tables, the approaches that are best able to be controlled by proponents and consultants. About half used interviews, and a quarter or less more rigorous approaches like participatory mapping or surveys, but most methods were poorly described. The range of impacts vary similarly: all SIAs looked at demographic change, infrastructure impacts and job creation, but fewer than half tackled issues such as gender, equity, crime, substance abuse, etc (see above). The number of methods employed was more correlated with the size of the project (p<0.001) than how recent it is (p<0.05). The paper makes some recommendations about improvements that could be made in SIA practice, and segues nicely to Gardenio’s second paper about monitoring, which should be coming along soon.
Thanks to writer Rob St. John for authoring a post on The Freshwater Blog about our new article in PLOS biology about iEcology and conservation culturomics for aquatic applications. I was happy to be featured in this post, and especially to have the opportunity to talk about my work with Yan Chen, former MES, current IDPhD and also paper co-author.
Thanks to Ivan Jarić, from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, for inviting Yan Chen and I onto this interesting new paper out in PLOS Biology today, Expanding conservation culturomics and iEcology from terrestrial to aquatic realms. This geographically and disciplinarily diverse writing team led to many rich conversations and debates as the manuscript took shape. The idea was to differentiate the emerging field of iEcology from conservation culturomics, and advocate for their application in aquatic realms which have a dearth of data. Our work on advancing social impact assessment of hydroelectricity and dyke realignment using Instagram datasets provided one of the six key areas of application outlined in this paper.
As decision-makers tackle the challenge of adapting Bay of Fundy dykelands to climate change, they need to understand who uses and values dykelands and salt marshes, and for what. This new paper in Ocean and Coastal Management, Comparing cultural ecosystem service delivery in dykelands and marshes using Instagram: A case of the Cornwallis (Jijuktu’kwejk) River, Nova Scotia, Canada, used four months of geocoded Instagram data to understand the cultural ecosystem service (CES) tradeoffs that might result from removing/realigning dykes and restoring salt marshes where dykelands can’t be sustained. Dykelands provide a much wider set of CES for a wider demographic than do marshes for this set of social media users. However, a big surprise is that while salt marshes were present in many photos they were not named as such; users spoke only about the dykes and dykelands behind those marshes. As such, the marsh CES in the dataset came from visitors to an impounded freshwater wetland trail which is a local attraction walkable from the downtown centre of Kentville. Many of the messages triangulate well with the 2016 online Q survey I ran with Nova Scotians about the same topic and the paper provides another nice case study as to the utility of social media data for social impact assessment. One of the really great things about this paper is that it is a real ‘lab’ output. The work was initiated as a follow-up to that 2016 study and to inform the new ResNet work when I knew Camille was going to be joining as an intern from AgroCampus Ouest. PhD student Yan collected a few months of Instagram posts for Camille to analyze with her help, postdoc Tuihedur helped with statistics, and then Yan picked it up again to write up after Camille went back to France. I’m proud of this paper and this collaborative team.