Cover slide from our ResNet L1 BOFEP panel, May 19, 2022
Back in 2020 I submitted a proposal for a panel for the ResNet L1 team at the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BOFEP) meeting to be held in Truro. We finally had a chance to deliver that panel last week, after two years of delays due to COVID. BOFEP was held in partnership with ACCESS (Atlantic Canada Coastal and Estuarine Science Society) , which led to a very diverse set of presentations from isotope analysis to citizen science and beyond. Our panel was originally designed to present the Facets paper as it was in development; instead we showed how ResNet L1 was filling in the gaps in the conceptual model we presented in the Facets paper on services like cultural, storm protection, carbon, and pollination, and how that related to practice.Being in Truro also enabled a great meeting with ResNet partners, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, visited lovely Victoria Park for a walk, and enjoyed a great public forum on flooding in Truro and the region.
That last item was the standout event for me. Truro Planning Director and a local African Nova Scotian resident demonstrated the political and justice dimensions of flood planning decisions in the region. Coincidentally or not, that theme was taken up yesterday on CBC Information Morning by Lynn Jones, who seems to be a part-time neighbour of that resident. The resident is now surrounded by homes that their owners could afford to raise on pads to the 1988 requirements currently in force for development on the flood plain, and he (downhill) feels he is receiving their runoff, worsening his situation. He can’t get insurance, but can’t really afford to raise or leave. He thinks the river should be dredged to store more water but the CBCL modelling suggests the sedimentation is so high it simply wouldn’t work. Meanwhile, Jones says her community, before they left or were squeezed out, used to ‘work with nature’ by keeping boats in the backyard so they could navigate the street, a pretty extreme form of what in adaptation terms would be called ‘accommodation’. She wants to see her community come back to these ‘ancestral lands’, but the risks today are higher than they were then. The past is a poor predictor of the future. This additional dimension to the challenges of Truro’s complex flood situation echoes those in other places like New Orleans where minorities are relegated to marginal lands, build strong communities and then are first displaced when conditions change: adaptation would mean not helping people to stay or return to such increasingly at-risk places, but such decisions have uneven impacts. Today, however, it sounds like flood plain development is still being permitted by Truro’s pro-development council and provincial UARB, in full awareness of expanding flood risk areas, locking in more risk and complexity for residents, the town and the wider public purse that will eventually have to wade in and make it right.
Conceptual diagram of believed ecosystem service flows, Figure 3 in Sherren et al. 2021.
The first output of the Landscape 1 case study of ResNet, the Bay of Fundy dykelands, is out this week in Facets, Canada’s open access science journal: Understanding multifunctional Bay of Fundy dykelands and tidal wetlands using ecosystem services—a baseline. We set out to understand ecosystem service flows from tidal wetlands and drained agricultural dykeland (former tidal wetland), as climate change forces a rethink of the dykeland system. This review covered papers, theses, reports, and drew in some cases on other jurisdictions where there was a dearth of local data. We uncovered some key gaps but also potential synergies in balancing the system for sustainability. Filling some of the gaps to inform decisionmaking is the undertaking that faces us in ResNet.
Kudos to IDPhD student Kate Thompson for her new paper that maps antecedents of the ecosystem services concepts in Canadian frameworks like Ecological Planning (McHarg), Urban Ecology (Hough), Ecological Land Classification, and Criteria & Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management. This paper was based on coursework with Peter Duinker during her first year, and it is nice to finally have it out in Early View in The Canadian Geographer: Ecosystem services: A new framework for old ideas, or advancing environmental decision-making? Learning from Canadian forerunners to the ES concept.
Jen Holzer of ResNet Theme 1 leads Landscape 1 through some facilitated discussions in the first ResNet workshop.
Yesterday we had the first workshop for ResNet Landscape 1 team, facilitated by ResNet Theme 1 (see above), in combination with our quarterly team call. We achieved an interesting set of break-out discussions on issues of ecosystem services in landscape 1 and as an integrative opportunity in research.
The quarterly call also featured a one-hour student symposium chaired by SMU MA student Brandon Champagne, where we heard from a dozen ResNet-affiliated students from Dalhousie, SMU, and Acadia about their research, including some early results from the field season now almost behind us. Two of those presenting students were Evan McNamara and Terrell Roulston, both SMU students in Jeremy Lundholm’s EPIC lab. Evan is pictured below doing some recent knowledge mobilization about their pollination ecosystem services work with participating farm owners and workers at Abundant Acres, where they did some of their fieldwork this past summer. Great work, everyone!
Evan McNamara showing pollinators to the team at Abundant Acres after the field season he and Terrell Roulston spent partly on that farm, Oct 3,2020 (Photo: Terrell Roulston).
** This position has now been filled **
I am still looking for an MES student to work on Mi’kmaw cultural ecosystem services in Bay of Fundy dykelands and salt marshes, starting either fall 2020 or 2021. This will explore how Mi’kmaq use and value the drained agricultural land (dykelands) and the salt marshes they replaced (and to which sections will return if abandoned or realigned). This student will become part of the Atlantic landscape case of NSERC ResNet, a national collaborative project designed to develop the utility of ecosystems service approaches for resolving complex resource decisions. Candidates should be socially curious, ideally trained in social science fields (e.g. first degrees in Geography, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Planning, etc.) and interested in qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews, ethnography, photo or map elicitation, etc. First Nation students are particularly encouraged to apply for this, but all applications are welcome. Our partner, Mi’kmaw Conservation Group, is offering the opportunity to embed within their organization to improve community integration, regardless of background. Email me if you are interested.