In January, Dr. Nelson was appointed to serve a three-year term on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The advisory board works directly with the Office of Research and Development to offer scientific advice and recommendations on technical and management issues of EPAs research programs. He is a member of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities subcommittee. SHC research "considers the full range of interactions between people and our environment to incorporate the three pillars of sustainability—economics, society, and the environment—into a seamless research portfolio that not only helps the Agency and its partners meet today’s most pressing environmental challenges, but do so while laying the groundwork for healthy, prosperous, and just communities well into the future.
This publication, authored by four HECLab members explores the historical land use dynamics in the Calhoun CZO. We conducted a high spatial resolution analysis to explore land use land use transition from 1931 - 1944, during the time that the National Forest Service purchased the land. We found that factors such as topography and and market access influence land use practices and timing of abandonment. However, this relationship varies between farmers. Land tenure proves to be a critical factor in decisions to use land in particular ways. Thus, we argue that land use policy aimed at improving environmental conservation and human wellbeing must explicitly consider not only economic and topographic factors, but also, the local constraints and dynamics introduced by land tenure and property regimes.
The paper can be accessed here.
HECL Lab student John McGreevy recently presented at the University of Georgia's Symposium on Integrative Conservation. This event encourages graduate students and faculty from different disciplines to exchange ideas and help facilitate integrative approaches to future research. The presentation brings together McGreevy's research from Source Chaude, Haiti that began in 2012 and collaborative work with Elkins Voltaire (State University of Haiti) in 2016 as part of Mark Schuller’s (Northern Illinois University) NSF CAREER funded study in Haiti’s Southern Peninsula. A combination of in-depth interviews, participant observation, and remote sensing illuminate trends that question common narratives of environmental degradation in Haiti.
A video of the presentation can be seen here.
In December, Dr. Nelson gave an invited presentation on vulnerability assessment at the Seminário de Avaliação da Seca de 2010-2016 no Nordeste do Brasil (Workshop for the Evaluation of the Northeast Brazil Drought 2010 – 2016), hosted by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, the World Bank, and the Northeast Development Bank, in Fortaleza, Brazil. The workshop brought together climatologists, hydrologists, policy makers, water managers, and one or two social scientists to talk about drought impacts and the ways in which different state bureaucracies responded. The objective was to identify best practices across the states, to identify ongoing challenges, and to develop a research agenda to respond to these challenges.
Workshop information can be found here.
Michael Lonneman attended a workshop on spatial agent-based modeling that was organized by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Agent-based models simulate how heterogeneous agents interact with each other and the environment, adapt to changing conditions, ultimately producing emergent outcomes and patterns. The 5-day intensive workshop was designed to introduce participants to the theory, creation, and evaluation of spatially explicit agent-based models, particularly those focused on exploring the dynamics and interconnections between social and ecological systems. Michael is building on the skills and knowledge learned at the workshop to build an agent-based model that explores how the interaction between landowners and laborers to specify the terms of agricultural production influences land use and environmental change.
Integrative Conservation and Anthropology PhD student and HECL Lab member John McGreevy recently presented with Haitian colleague Elkins Voltaire at the Haitian Studies Association Conference in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Their paper combined findings from McGreevy’s research in Haiti since 2012 and collaborative research as part of an international team studying non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the environment in the summer of 2016, and panel discussion from the research team contributed to the conference’s focus on Haiti’s ecological situation and the future of natural resource use in the country. Skills and experience gained through ICON shaped McGreevy’s conversations at the conference, sparking constructive dialogue with NGO practitioners, scholars from other disciplines, and consultants working with the Haitian government on natural resource and land use policy.
Dr. Nelson and colleagues recently published “The limits of poverty reduction in support of climate change adaptation” in Environmental Research Letters. Poverty and climate vulnerability are contemporary challenges that have implications for millions of people. There is conceptual distinction between the two, but they are often conflated in policy responses, which can undermine policy efficacy. More effective responses require nuanced understanding of the relationship between poverty and vulnerability. Through application of the concepts of generic and specific capacities, this article presents an empirical analysis that helps increase our understanding of how poverty and vulnerability policies can work in synergy. The paper can be accessed here.
John McGreevy, HECL Lab PhD student, spent the summer researching non-governmental organization (NGO) influence on social life and ecosystem health in rural Haiti. McGreevy worked collaboratively with a team of 16 interdisciplinary graduate research assistants, 8 from the United States and 8 from Haiti. Dr. Mark Schuller from Northern Illinois University led this international team as part of a study supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant. Findings from this team will be presented as part of a panel at the Haitian Studies Association conference in Cap Haitien, Haiti in November. The theme for the conference is “Haiti’s Eco-systems: Focus on Environmental Realities and Hopes.”