Update August 4, 2009
Field work - O.T. Thakadu
O.T. travelled to Botswana (Southern Africa) in mid April 2009 to conduct research among Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) trusts in the Okavango delta. The purpose of the research study was to assess the relative effectiveness of two communication methods (visualized and traditional verbal communication methods) and their effects on predictors of environmental knowledge sharing behaviors among CBNRM leaders. The study will advance understanding on predictors of environmental responsible behavior as well as shedding light on environmental information communication approaches that will facilitate maximal social change. The study was conducted during the months of May – August 2009. Fifteen (15) CBNRM Board of Trustees took part in the study, making a total sample of 150 subjects. Three (3) of the participating Boards were used to pilot both the instrument and the two interventions. Workshops were held with each participating Board, addressing two specific environmental concerns and issues within the Okavango delta. The two environmental issues addressed were fire management and waste management within community managed concession areas, often referred to as community controlled hunting areas (CHAs). The research was funded by the University of Botswana to a tune of about $7000.00. The research trip gave O.T. the opportunity to work again with CBNRM leaders, and further helped him to better understand the knowledge and information needs required for effective management of community areas, as well as promoting responsible environmental behaviors among community constituents.
Field work - Narcisa Pricope
Narcisa is currently in Namibia and Botswana, Southern Africa, undertaking the last season of fieldwork for her PhD dissertation entitled Using Remote Sensing to create indicators of ecosystem resilience for semi-arid savanna watersheds in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Southern Africa, funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. Apart from being charged by elephants and attacked by a spotted hyena in the tent, her work is progressing very well and she has made countless contacts with government agencies and researchers from the national universities.
Funding awarded - Rachael Pawlitz and Becky Blanchard
IGERT Trainees Rachel Pawlitz and Becky Blanchard were part of an interdisciplinary team recently awarded the Water Institute's 2009 Project Initiation Fund (PIF). The research team is investigating social and technical uncertainty in decision-making about water allocation in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin. Led by Dr. Greg Kiker, the team also includes modeling uncertainty expert Rafael Munoz-Carpena, Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stella model creator and negotiation expert Steve Leitman, political scientist Dr. Katrina Schwartz, natural resource economist Dr. Clyde Kiker, ecological anthropologist Dr. Peter Collings, and UF PhD student Nate Johnson . The team plans to use the seed money for research to investigate the role of El Nino in the predictability of ACF water availability as well as pilot research on how scientific information is used in the basin by stakeholders representing their own concerns (Blanchard) and decision-makers who are charged with representing stakeholder needs (Pawlitz). The team plans to submit a research proposal that addresses political, economic, and technical issues that impact water resource decision-making to the NSF within the next year.
Workshop - Rachael Pawlitz and Becky Blanchard
Rachel and Becky were recently invited to take part in forming a "Community of Practice" sponsored by the UF Water Institute to help foster innovative research into water and watershed issues at the University of Florida. The Water Institute hosted Dr. Etienne Wenger in a 2-day workshop on his widely recognized "Communities of Practice" concept. The workshop included a discussion of how to create a successful community where UF water researchers from differing disciplinary backgrounds engage in a shared research problem and support each other's learning efforts. IGERT Principle Investigator Dr. Mark Brown was also invited to the workshop as a member of one of the interdisciplinary PIF teams but was unable to atttend. Brown, Pawlitz, and Blanchard have all joined the new Water Institute Community of Practice Wiki, which includes a subgroup focused on watershed systems modeling as well as one focused on researcher stakeholders.
Course taught -Sean King
Sean co-taught the Environmental Biology Laboratory class in the department of Environmental Engineering Sciences in Spring 2009
Conference - Sean King
Sean attended the American Ecological Engineering Society meeting in Corvallis, OR at Oregon State University and presented Ecological modeling for artesian springs management and restoration in Florida
Federal outreach materials (DOI) - Rachel Pawlitz
Rachel traveled to Washington, DC from July 27-31 as part of a US Geological Survey detail to help prepare Department of Interior outreach materials in response to a recent Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama calling for increased efforts in the management and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The Chesapeake Bay restoration project shares many of the same challenges as the Everglades, so Rachel expects to benefit from her NSF IGERT training adaptive management of ecosystems that she learned in the AMW3 IGERT Everglades field course, which she participated in during the summer of 2006.
Conference panel - Robin Globus and Rachael Pawlitz
A panel organized by Robin Globus was recently accepted for the Inaugural Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, October 8-11, 2009. Globus got the idea for the panel from her efforts in the AMW3 IGERT, where she is working to merge her research on environment, nature, and religion with issues and research in environmental science. The panel is titled From Human Dimensions to Humanism Dilemmas in the Interdisciplinary Study of Human Relationships with the Environment. Globus is presenting a paper on the use of narrative methods to study human relationships with the environment. Fellow AMW3 Trainee Rachel Pawlitz is also presenting a paper on the panel, addressing how differing approaches to measuring social well-being and sustainability in watershed management can affect lead to different conclusions. For more information about the conference schedule, visit: http://www.union.wisc.edu/aess/schedule.html
Hollie Hall and Susanna Blair
As part of UF’s Adaptive Management of Water and Watershed Systems course, Hollie Hall and Susanna W. Blair were a part of the St. Marys River Watershed Group. The St. Marys River is a black water river located on the state line between Florida and Georgia. It is in relatively pristine conditions, but future land use changes may greatly impact this watershed in terms of water quality and especially water quantity. The main industry in this watershed is silviculture, which uses about 40% of the land area. This river is also utilized for recreation as well as fishing. Due to the proximity of the watershed to the University of Florida and the existence of stakeholder interest in adaptive watershed management, Hollie and Susanna were able to interact directly with three stakeholder groups and the Director of the University of Georgia’s River Basin Center to communicate significant findings and recommendations for the development and implementation of an adaptive watershed management approach for the St. Marys Basin. The Group attended a meeting of the St. Marys River Management Committee to learn about the current phase of management as well as stakeholder concerns for managing the river. At that time the Committee provided the Group with a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) comprised of foresters, lawyers, wildlife ecologists, community members, landowners and silvicultural industry representatives. The Group worked with the TAC to identify several stakeholder concerns for managing the long-term health of the watershed ecosystem.
After making a series of three in-class presentations and incorporating professor feedback, the Group met with the Director of UGA’s River Basin Center to present recommendations for the development of an interstate compact between Florida and Georgia with the purpose of consistently managing the watershed from river bank to river bank and to communicate the potential for Florida and Georgia to join their monitoring efforts to develop a robust monitoring regime to provide the foundation for adaptively managing the watershed. Following that meeting the Group received an invitation to present their findings and recommendations to three community based groups the St. Marys River Management Committee, the Florida Waterfronts Program and the St. Marys Fisheries Committee. The result was a successful transition of information regarding the need and potential for adaptive watershed management from academia to local, state and federal stakeholders. The St. Marys River Management Committee has begun organizing the relevant parties from both Florida and Georgia to implement the recommendations.
Adaptive Management: Wise Use of Water, Wetlands & Watersheds
is an NSF-funded IGERT program at the University of Florida