RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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318 Exploring the local context for nature-based solutions in conservation management (1)
Affiliation Planning and Environment Research Group
Convenor(s) Nikoleta Jones (Anglia Ruskin University, UK)
Shonil Bhagwat (The Open University, UK)
Chair(s) Shonil Bhagwat (The Open University, UK)
Timetable Friday 30 August 2019, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room RGS-IBG Lowther Room
Session abstract Nature based solutions aim to protect nature to deliver ecosystem services, the benefits that people derive from nature. In order to develop efficient nature-based solutions, it is important to evaluate social and economic priorities at a location. These priorities may arise from the characteristics of the local ecosystem itself, but also cultural and historical contexts in which the nature-based solutions are implemented. The aim of this session is to explore how the characteristics of a location can assist (or obstruct) in developing nature-based solutions in conservation management. This is discussed both through theoretical and empirical contributions in a wide range of geographical settings. Each presentation will be followed by a short discussion. At the end of the session the main speakers will discuss optimum ways in order to improve nature-based solutions depending on the locality where they are implemented.
Linked Sessions Exploring the local context for nature-based solutions in conservation management (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Assessing the long-term resilience of the Western Ghats agroforestry landscapes: Implications for sustaining biodiversity in one of its prime hotspots
Charuta Kulkarni (The Open University, UK)
Shonil Bhagwat (The Open University, UK)
Walter Finsinger (ISEM, University of Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, France)
Sandra Nogue (University of Southampton, UK)
Pallavi Anand (The Open University, UK)
Kathy Willis (University of Oxford, UK)
The effective management of human-dominated tropical forest landscapes is crucial in the wake of global environmental change affecting biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and the livelihoods of billions. Among a wide range of practices, agroforestry i.e. intentional maintenance of trees on farmland for productive agriculture, remains one of the most promising land management strategies in the tropics, offering subsistence for millions and effective tools for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. The multifarious social-environmental benefits of agroforestry have led nations to earnestly invest in this nature-based solution to the management of agricultural land. A recent example is India’s National Agroforestry Policy (NAP), which aims to mobilise resources to enhance national forest cover by doubling the area under agroforestry. To explore the wider applicability of this nature-based solution to the tropics, we examine agroforestry landscapes of the Western Ghats of India, one of world’s prime biodiversity hotspots supporting the highest human population density. The ancient agroforestry landscapes of the Western Ghats, like many tropical regions, have co-existed with “sacred” forest groves, a traditional practice of community-based conservation. We compare forest-cover trajectories from these two landscape units to develop regional resilience scenarios under varying human and natural influences. We take a long-term approach in assessing the capacity of landscapes to sustain biodiversity over long time scales of decades and centuries. We use innovative statistical approaches developed within the tradition of palaeoecology to examine the long-term resilience of Indian agroforestry landscapes to past landscape burning and monsoonal changes. The resilience scenarios at a 40-yr resolution provide a time-window that is relevant to current policies (e.g. the role of fires in forest management) that are being developed under the umbrella of the NAP. These scenarios also help us explore nature-based solutions from the past that can be potentially useful in present-day management of this and other tropical landscapes. Our work is part of project “EARNEST” funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement no. 795557.
An integrated landscape approach to enhancing synergy between goals of biodiversity and livelihood in disadvantaged rural communities, Taiwan
Kuang-Chung Lee (National Dong-Hwa University, Taiwan)
In the past in rural areas, livelihoods of local and indigenous communities depended on environmentally friendly agriculture, forestry, fishery and livestock farming. Impacted by urbanization, conventional farming and climate change in recent decades; however, rural areas have been suffering from problems including aging, production landscape deterioration, economic depression, and traditional ethics and culture disappearance. The study aims to analyze the processes and outcomes of the innovative ‘Forest-River-Village-Sea Ecoagriculture Initiative’ launched from October 2016 to Dec 2018 in Xinshe village, Hualien, Taiwan. In the past of the case study area, different government sectors worked separately on different goals and priorities for two different neighboring settlements of the village. Resources conflicts over water usage, hunting and fishing rights happened from time to time between two settlements. Inspired by the ideas of integrated landscape approaches, especially the Satoyama Initiative and ecoagriculture, since October 2016, the case study area has started to be planned and managed collectively with help of the research team. A Task Force composed of 7 core members and a Multi-Stakeholder Platform composed of about 20 representatives from local indigenous communities, governmental institutions, the local school, academics, NGOs and green enterprises were set up to enhance synergies between different goals, value priorities and actions of the SEPLS in terms of production, biodiversity and livelihoods. A short-to-long-term Action Plan for the Initiative was drew up collectively by stakeholders in April 2017 in line with the framework of three-fold approach to the Satoyama Initiative. To monitor the outcomes of the Initiative, in 2017-2018, the research team adopted the set of indicators of landscape resilience and conducted a series of workshops with above two communities to evaluate 20 resilience indicators as well as figure out strategies for enhancing resilience with respect to each indicator. The suggested revisions of the existing action plan for the Initiative proposed by the local indicator task group were successfully brought into the Multi-Stakeholder Platform Meeting for approval. This study successfully developed and demonstrates a participatory and operationalized procedure for synergy between goals, value priority setting, cross-sector action planning, and community-based indicator evaluation for local environment monitoring.
Spaces of Hope in the threated landscapes of South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region
David Bek (Coventry University, UK)
Tony Binns (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Etienne Nel (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Rachel Fleener (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Daniel Basubas (University of Otago, New Zealand)
The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is an area of striking biodiversity containing 9000 plant species, of which sixty-nine percent are endemic. The dominant vegetation type in the region is known as fynbos (fine leaved bush), which grows in a 100-200km wide strip in the Western and Eastern Capes of South Africa. The CFR is confronted by a series of threats posed by human activity and the increasingly evident impacts of climate change.

This paper examines two initiatives which seek to conserve the natural environment, whilst also generating dividends in terms of job creation and provision of ecosystem services. These examples illustrate the tensions between the different sustainability objectives being set, but also demonstrate that local ingenuity is creating meaningful spaces of hope. The first initiative focuses upon the wild fynbos harvesting industry whereby over 20 million flower stems are harvested from the landscape for export each year creating around 3000 jobs. Concerns that poor harvesting practices are negatively affecting the landscape have led to the creation of the Sustainable Harvesting Programme (SHP) which incorporates scientifically verified harvesting principles. Implementing the SHP has proven problematic, although there have been notable successes.

The second example, evaluates the Working for Water (WfW) programme which is a national government strategy for tackling the problem of invasive plant species within the landscape. Species such as black wattle, acacia and eucalyptus have spread into the CFR and are altering the structure of ecosystems and water budgets. WfW was created as a strategy to remove alien invasives, whilst also providing work for the low skilled. The rollout of the programme has not been straightforward, but significant progress has been made in some localities.

Our analysis discusses the tensions and trade-offs that need to be recognised in the implementation of such programmes. Gaining buy-in from stakeholders with a financial/livelihood interest, and ensuring that local institutions are aligned, is crucial to the success of these programmes in ensuring that conservation outcomes are delivered. However, the national government’s adherence to neoliberal doctrines sets a problematic context for such initiatives to flourish.
An Atua framework: Enabling community-engaged, culturally-based environmental monitoring
Dean Walker (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Kenneth Hughey (Lincoln University, New Zealand)
James Ataria (Cawthron Institute, New Zealand)
Monitoring environmental health is normally undertaken by experts using sustainability frameworks, scientific indicators and quantitative assessment methods. These may be scientifically robust but not necessarily understandable to, or reflective of the cultural values, of local indigenous communities. In Aotearoa New Zealand, alternative participatory approaches to monitoring have been developed through co-creation methodologies between Māori groups and scientists that reflect local customs and learning practices. Culturally-based monitoring (CBM) approaches are increasingly being used by iwi (local Māori tribal groups) to monitor the health of socio-ecological systems within areas that they have tribal authority over, e.g., rivers and coastal areas. CBM indicators and tools are often underpinned by indigenous Māori cosmological frameworks and narratives. These frameworks and narratives are holistic, integrated and connected to local environment. The practice of CBM by Māori is an expression of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and decolonisation and which has social, environmental and economic benefits.

This research collaboration involved three iwi in the top of the South Island and researchers from Lincoln University. A cosmological ‘Atua (Māori departmental deity) framework’ and a suite of indicators was developed. The ‘Atua’ are seven departmental deities – the first born of Papatūānuku (the Earth Mother) and Ranginui (the Sky Father). Each deity is responsible for an environmental domain – water, forests and birds, weather and climate, people and war, agriculture and peace, wild foods, and geological phenomena. From this framework a suite of indicators was identified and a CBM tool developed. The tool was used to assess the health of six indigenous forests within the tribal area of the iwi groups involved in the research using both qualitative and quantitative methods. This article will present the results of this research and an analysis of the results including an exploration of the potential of this tool for other indigenous resource management and planning purposes.