Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: commentary

Coming soon… Power of Landscape

Just in time for Christmas, I see that the new book by Oudes, Stremke and Picchi to which I contributed an essay is now available to order. It will be a beautiful offering: the Europeans generally do books beautifully, but particularly so here thanks to the architects leading the project and their attention to visual detail. Edge to edge photos, maps and essays from some of the most interesting folks in Energy thinking. I am delighted to be involved and looking forward to my copy landing in October. My essay reflects on some of my early work on climax thinking and what it means for progress in energy transitions, with a few accompanying photos from case study locations in New Brunswick (the Mactaquac dam headpond) and Nova Scotia (the Tantramar outside Amherst).

New paper – precondition for integration

Australian grazier Gary Johnson, appraising tree decline on his farm, 2010.

Australian grazier Gary Johnson, appraising tree decline on his farm, 2010.

A year ago this week I was in Portugal, where I presented and co-convened a session at the World Congress of Silvo-pastoral Systems. The invite came as a result of my work on tree decline under grazing in Australia, though I used the opportunity to present synthesis work emerging from more recent work on Holistic Management.  The best keynote at the event was by Ika Darnhofer, an Austrian scholar, with whom I struck up a correspondence after the event. When news came that a special issue of Rangeland Ecology and Management was planned for the Integrative stream of the conference, Ika and I collaborated on a short commentary piece.  It was published online today, the first of those in the special issue. Each of us had been frustrated by the primacy of natural science within key journals and projects, so our commentary argues for greater openness to stand-alone social science research (particularly qualitative social science) in problem-based agricultural journals. Instead, editors have one-by-one closed their doors to social science unless in integration with natural sciences. I like to think of it as picking up where Nathan Sayre left off in 2004.

In the summary I prepared for Rangelands, the more producer-focused magazine also run by the Society for Range Management, the paper is summarized as follows:

The voices of pastoralists, farmers, and ranchers are hard to hear in rangeland and silvopastoral research, although they make the management choices. Researchers call for integration across academic disciplines to improve decision-making, but what seems to be forgotten is that robust disciplines are needed first. Is social science around rangelands and silvopastoral systems healthy, or is it being given a service role to natural science? Key journals are biased toward natural science, fragmenting social science insight and discouraging new scholars. Journals welcoming standalone social science will grow the discipline and incorporate land manager knowledge, strengthening research outcomes and their application.

Mactaquac commentary abounds

In the months leading up to the Mactaquac decision, the editorial pages of the Telegraph Journal is filling up with opinion pieces. Early in May, Keith Helmuth of the Woodstock Sustainable Energy Research group (who was an expert at our citizen jury) spoke out for dam removal, looking towards more efficient, greener energy options for the same investment and a boon for agricultural production. LarryJewett of Lakeway Houseboat Rental on the headpond (who rented us the houseboats we used for floating focus groups in 2013), and Friends of Mactaquac Lake, responded to support the rebuilding of the dam and generating station, for the local amenity it has become. Since then, Peter Cronin of the Atlantic Salmon Federation has responded to both in a two part commentary (1 and 2), supporting dam removal to foster a healthy river and restore fish stocks, among other things. While TJ has a firewall, as a subscriber the commentaries are just as interesting. A recent blog post on the NiCHE website by once-NB now-Maine environmental historian, Mark McLaughlin, uses our Before the Mactaquac Dam storymap to illustrate the need for academics to avoid focusing on stories of environmental decline: dams dramatically change landscapes and ecosystems, but are the exception among infrastructure in creating new amenity. I’m heading next week to the ISSRM meeting in Michigan, where I am co-convening a five-session stream on energy landscapes and transitions, which will examine just such trade-offs.

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