Archive for December, 2019

Ten Years of Ecosystem Change and Society

This past week, we had a science meeting and working session based around the latest research coming out of Future Earth‘s Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS).  Under the inspiring leadership of Berta Martín-López and Oonsie Biggs, PECS focuses on a few aspects of the scientific enterprise that are truly leading the way on the study of social-ecological systems (SES) as the core of sustainability science.  In particular, we emphasize:

  • the importance of holistic research of SES,
  • the need to ground this research as place-based,
  • the need to progress from disciplinary research to interdisciplinary research to transdisciplinary research.

What this means in practice is that we take a more holistic approach to research at a systems level – not differentiating between social and ecological, but seeing them as a combined system with complex feedback loops between various parts of the system.  A focus on place-based research resonates with many political ecologists, anthropologists and case study researchers that see a need to look at context-specific cases in contrast with the ever-present global models or pure theoretic studies that push the generalizability of science at the expense of everything else – all the aspects of our day-to-day lives that we find special about where we are.  Finally, transdisciplinarity acknowledges the need to move outside of science and privileging expert knowledge at the loss of the rich and detailed knowledge and expertise of other stakeholders in the system – the business leaders, the government officials, the farmers, the campesinos, the forest rangers, the ranchers, the people that are major influences in the places in which they live, work and play.

The meeting was at Leuphana University in Luneburg, Germany in their award-winning Central Building.  Just please don’t ask me for directions in that maze of a building!

Leuphana

While it is dark and cold in Germany at this time of year, the Christmas markets were beautiful.

Christmas market

Early Stage Research in the Galapagos

This past week, I returned to the Galapagos to try to advance some projects there.  One of the big projects in conjunction with the Charles Darwin Foundation (https://www.darwinfoundation.org/en/about/cdrs) is to understand what happened to co-management arrangements since the inauguration of a large marine reserve around Wolf and Darwin Islands in 2016 (https://www.santacruzgalapagoscruise.com/galapagos-marine-reserve/).  Established by presidential edict, it provided the final blow to co-management arrangements between artisanal fishers, government officials, and tourism operators in the Galapagos.

Picture1

Photo of Darwin and Wolf Islands                                           Source: http://www.scubatravel.co.uk

Our research looks at the arrangements on paper for the management and zoning of the waters around the Galapagos and interviews many of the people involved in the management and/or co-management of this rich, biodiverse area.  Our hope is that we can learn about how to improve governance outcomes as well as the legitimacy of the process through our work.

Picture2

And why this area is known as the “Sharkiest Place on the Planet”

Source: Charles Darwin Foundation