E-Newsletter Spring 2011

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Subscribe to the E-newsletter Spring 2011
Director’s Note:

Over the last few months, INR has seen a number of changes. Gail Achterman stepped down as Director of INR at the end of December 2010, and I have been appointed Interim Director. While in this position, I hope to enhance INR’s connections with Oregon University System faculty, grow our partnerships in the state and the Pacific Northwest, and promote INR’s work in facilitating the access to and use of science in natural resource and environmental decision making.

INR’s reputation continues to expand as we find ourselves working nationally with colleagues on the integration of conservation and transportation planning and on ecosystem services. We are expanding on the western U.S. front with our Oregon Explorer program and the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP), which received national recognition by the Farm Foundation as an exemplary case study in collaborative research. A few INR staff have had the opportunity to travel abroad to work on forestry management issues, outreach, and international transboundary waters projects. In recent months, INR has been approached to facilitate and convene several workshops and planning meetings on developing data networks; and integrating climate change adaption strategies for estuaries, oak habitats, and sagebrush habitat in the upcoming update of the Oregon Conservation Strategy.

Our INR-Portland staff have settled in to their new offices at Portland State University. We have two new members of our INR-Corvallis staff – Rob Fiegener and Julie Risien. Rob and Julie share developing and managing a web-based ecosystem services portal designed to bring practitioners and researchers up to speed and into collaborative engagement within the rapidly-developing arena of payments for ecosystem services. INR continues to represent the Oregon University System at the Governor’s Natural Resources Cabinet and at the Regional Environmental and Natural Resources Forum, and I participate in the Science Management Leaders meeting, and various other meetings around the Northwest.

In this newsletter you will read about some of the many activities we have been engaged in over the past several months. You can also learn more about us at our new INR website which is aimed at better presenting who we are, what we do, our impacts, and our partnerships.

Thank you for your support of INR. We look forward to an inspiring and productive future.

Sincerely,

Lisa Gaines

 

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Newsletter Highlights:

Ecosystem Services

  • Senate Bill 513 Ecosystem Services and Markets
  • INR awarded grant from NIFA for ecosystem services project
  • Ecosystem Commons Web Portal in Development
  • Exploring the provision of ecosystem services in the McKenzie River basin
  • Continued funding from the Bullitt Foundation for ecosystem services

Integrated Conservation Planning and Monitoring

  • The Integrated Landscape Analysis Project
  • INR contributes to Snowy Plover Habitat Conservation Plan
  • INR develops landcover maps for the Intertwine Regional Conservation Strategy
  • INR-Portland publishes the 2010 Natural Areas Plan

The Oregon Explorer Program

  • Oregon Explorer now using open source software
  • ILAP and Oregon Explorer Goes Western
  • Two new wetland decision-support tools launched

Other INR Projects

  • ULTRA
  • Science review of ODF Species of Concern Analyses and Board of Forestry Performance Measures reports
  • Natural Resources and the Rural Economy Forums

Other INR News

  • INR Staff Go International
Ecosystem Services:

Senate Bill 513 Ecosystem Services and Markets

wetland from report coverFor two years, Sally Duncan, Renee Davis-Born, and other INR staff served on an Ecosystem Services Markets Working Group with representatives of several non-governmental, private, and state and federal agencies to develop recommendations to create a successful ecosystem marketplace. The December 2010 final report, Senate Bill 513 Ecosystem Services and Markets, prepared by the Oregon Sustainability Board with input from the Ecosystem Services Markets Working Group and its ad hoc advisory group, presents 10 policy proposals that were developed to promote development and implementation of an integrated ecosystem marketplace in Oregon. The report can be found on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board website (PDF). Based on the work that came out of the SB 513 working group and the work of others there is pending legislation (HB3109-3) in Oregon that would support the continuation of policy development to support ecosystem services and markets. In that pending legislation INR is being called on, “to the extent practicable, provide information to local governments, state agencies, federal agencies, conservation organizations, private landowners and businesses to assist in the development of public domain integrated ecosystem services methodologies.”

 

INR Awarded Grant from NIFA for Ecosystem Services Project

INR recently received a $497,000 award from the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for a proposal titled “Utilities and Corporations as Ecosystem Service Buyers: Innovative Opportunities for Small- and Medium-sized Farms and Rural Communities.” This grant continues the development of the ecosystem services focus area within INR’s Policy Research Program, which has previously helped state and federal agencies analyze policy impediments and opportunities for ecosystem service markets, examined financial components of proposed markets, and assessed opportunities for small farms and forests in the developing “Payment for Ecosystem Services” (PES) arena. PES is a market-based approach to protecting and restoring the environment, which is gaining growing attention from scholars, practitioners, and the conservation community. The interest is not just for its potential to enhance the services nature provides for society, but also for its potential to enhance the economic prosperity of the suppliers of those services, including agricultural landowners. There are a number of challenges associated with institutionalizing PES schemes, however, many of which have to do with the demand side of the equation. The NIFA project will thus explore two innovative approaches to funding PES schemes involving corporations and public utilities, to better understand the potential for leveraging current incentive programs and generating hybrid models for further motivating land stewardship. The two approaches are: (1) involving public utilities in providing incentive programs targeting small and medium-sized farms through various PES opportunities, and (2) attracting corporate funding to drive a certification system based on the ecosystem services provided by small and medium-sized farms pursuing restoration activities as a revenue source.

 

Ecosystem Commons Web Portal in Development

Sally Duncan, Jimmy Kagan, and Rob Fiegener attended the ACES (A Community for Ecosystem Services) conference in Phoenix, Arizona, December 6-9, 2010. The three also represented INR at national cross-agency meetings concerning the development of the Ecosystem Commons portal and the relationship with the National Ecosystem Services Partnership, both federally funded by EPA, USDA, USGS and others. The Ecosystem Commons portal is a web space designed to bring practitioners and researchers up to speed and into collaborative engagement within the rapidly-developing arena of payments for ecosystem services. INR is providing added value by discerning national trends and themes that will help convene useful dialogue as challenges and solutions emerge.

 

Exploring the Provision of Ecosystem Services in the McKenzie River Basin

McKenzie River TributaryThis past winter, James Johnston and Sally Duncan of INR, and Hannah Gosnell of the OSU Department of Geosciences led a studio class that explored the provision of ecosystem services in the McKenzie River Basin. The class involved students and instructors from OSU and the University of Oregon. This collaboration was funded by a small grant to INR from the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) and was designed to help EWEB launch a groundbreaking program to augment ecosystem services from the McKenzie River Basin as part of its mission to be a leader in sustainable business operations. 

The class investigated methodologies for quantifying and qualifying the delivery of ecosystem services including carbon storage, wildlife habitat, water flow and water quality.  Students became familiar with regional planning models, including biological/hydrological process models and alternative future scenario decision support models.  The social dimensions of ecosystem service delivery—including landowner capacity and willingness to participate in ecosystem service markets—were also explored.  The class resulted in students and instructors becoming more familiar with ecosystem services in western Oregon as well as a detailed report to EWEB that provides a roadmap for developing market-based transactions that will augment ecosystem services from private lands in the McKenzie Basin.  Stay tuned for more updates about INR’s exciting partnership with EWEB and other partners in the McKenzie Basin.

 

Continued Funding from the Bullitt Foundation for Ecosystem Services

During 2010, INR completed an exciting Bullitt Foundation research project assessing financing needs for ecosystem services projects to help rural landowners with small- and medium-sized acreages. Based on what INR learned from that project, Bullitt has funded INR to take the next step: research into the role of public utilities as drivers of local ecosystem service marketplaces. The Bullitt project will dovetail with INR’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant by assessing the institutional opportunities and constraints to greater involvement of public utilities in Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs, investigating institutional structures and substructures needed to create effective Ecosystem Service Districts (ESD), and holding work sessions for public utilities managers in Oregon and Washington to provide outreach and seek professional feedback on the proposed structures and concepts.

 

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Integrated Conservation Planning and Monitoring:

The Integrated Landscape Analysis Project

Photo of Blue Mountains.

We are at the half-way point with ILAP!  Funding for this work was provided by the USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This past year the project employed 18 INR staff and supports another 40 people from OSU College of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, University of Washington, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Biology Institute, and Ecosystem Management, Inc.

The geographic information systems (GIS) team has produced more than 40 datasets for Oregon, Washington, and 50 datasets for Arizona and New Mexico.  Data themes include ownership, vegetation, watershed boundaries, soils, topography, and climate. The modeling team has compiled and refined 70 state and transition vegetation models (VDDT) for the Northwest and 19 vegetation models for the Southwest.  This work involves the creation of current and potential natural vegetation datasets from available plot data and Thematic Mapper satellite imagery. It also involves new methodologies for incorporating more realistic forest growth and fire probabilities. Newly developed models (i.e. Western Washington and arid land) have been through a science review. An extensive database of plot data has been compiled from Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other sources.

The Wildlife, Fuel Characteristics, Fuel Treatment Economics, Community Economics, and Climate Change teams have been developing their methodologies for incorporating the GIS and/or VDDT model outputs in ways that can be analyzed and then integrated by the Decision Support teams. Products will be designed to support watershed-level restoration prioritization across all lands in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico.

With ILAP, we have the opportunity to explore the dynamics of broad-scale, multi-ownership landscapes by integrating and evaluating information about current and future vegetation and fuel conditions, wildlife habitat, watershed conditions and the costs and benefits to communities, public agencies, and industries in the Northwest and Southwest.

For more information about ILAP visit the project website: http://oregonstate.edu/inr/ilap

 

INR Contributes to Snowy Plover Habitat Conservation Plan

Snowy Plover

INR’s Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC) based out of the INR-Portland offices has been working with state and federal partners for the past 20 years to recover the threatened Western Snowy Plover along Oregon’s coastal beaches. Marking a milestone for the plover and the culmination of a multi-year public input effort, two state and four federal agency leaders recently signed a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan. Under the plan, Oregon agrees to improve western snowy plover habitat in at least three state-owned areas on the north coast while keeping those beaches open to public recreation. Plovers already nest in a few locations on the south coast, where the dry sand in six areas are roped from March-September, but the hard, wet beach also remains open year-round.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all have a role to play in carrying out the Habitat Conservation Plan. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has management responsibility for coastal shores where plovers breed and nest. ORBIC has been working with these agencies to ensure they have sound biological information when making management decisions and provided input to the Habitat Conservation Plan. We will continue our plover monitoring work to allow agencies to assess the impact of their actions on the plovers.

In exchange for improving plover habitat, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department received an important permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The "Incidental Take Permit" accepts some plovers may be harmed as visitors and residents use the public ocean shore, but avoids the usual consequences—which could have included closing whole beaches—so long as the harm to plovers is limited and recovery continues elsewhere. Recovery is guided by a Habitat Conservation Plan adopted by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission earlier this year after extensive public review.

"In just over 15 years, our Oregon snowy plover population has grown from a few dozen birds to more than 150, which means we're getting closer to the Oregon recovery goal of 200 breeding birds," said Robyn Thorson, director of the Pacific Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The extraordinary cooperation and effort of all the agencies involved in plover conservation, and the care of committed citizens, have been the cornerstone of our success so far. We applaud the Parks and Recreation Department for its leadership and all our partners for helping to put plover recovery within reach."

 

INR Develops Landcover Maps for the Intertwine Regional Conservation Strategy

Conservation Strategy ImageINR’s Matt Noone has been working on a project for Portland Metro to develop vegetation baseline maps of the greater Portland area. The maps were developed using LiDAR data from six different flights, National Agriculture Inventory Project aerial photography (½ m color infrared), and recent Landsat satellite imagery.  The maps are an essential part of the Regional Conservation Strategy (RCS), and will be utilized to identify conservation priority and opportunity areas, threats they face and strategies to protect and restore wildlife corridors and habitat in those areas. The use of extensive LiDAR data enabled INR to create a vegetation map with detailed structure classes that aid in the implementation of RCS goals and prioritization objectives. The RCS has drawn a great deal of excitement from the wide array of its partners involved such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Tribal governments, stormwater agencies, Metro, the cities of Portland and Vancouver, and The Nature Conservancy, to name a few. Upon the completion of the project, the map products will be available for download at INR’s website.

 

INR-Portland Publishes the 2010 Natural Areas Plan

In December 2010, Oregon’s first Natural Areas Plan was published by INR, on behalf of the State Land Board and the Natural Heritage Advisory Council.  The plan was approved by the Heritage Council and by the State Land Board (the Governor, Secretary of State and Treasurer) at their December meetings, and is available for download from the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center’s website.  A paper copy can be purchased from the PSU bookstore.  By rule, the Natural Heritage Advisory Council (NHAC) had published the “Natural Heritage Plan” every 5 years, from 1988 – 2003.  In the 2009 Legislative session, the Heritage Act was amended, and the Plan renamed as the Oregon Natural Areas Plan. 

The new Oregon Natural Areas Plan differs from previous versions of the Heritage Plan in a few ways.  First, it now includes new short chapters on management and stewardship, monitoring and data management, research, and education and communication. The four new chapters are from a 2009 Interagency Strategic Plan for Natural Areas in the Pacific Northwest. The plan also includes the addition of a new ecoregion to represent the marine and estuarine areas of the state, which had been combined in the Coast Range in previous versions. Eventually, as marine reserves and natural areas are established and needs are defined, this section will be expanded.  Other differences include the removal of the set of natural area needs based on ecosystem processes. In the 2003 plan, a set of fire ecosystem process natural area needs were established, to help researchers better understand the effects of and recovery from wildfires. However, because agencies are unable to designate any fire natural areas, the council has eliminated them. A second change was an inclusion in the lists of known natural areas that support any of the special species identified in the plan.

Plan

Type #

Protected / Proposed

Unfilled

1998

804

252

617

2003

750

416

334

2010

712

374

338

Change from 2003-2010

-38

-42

4

The table on the right summarizes the differences in protection for ecosystem cells between the 1998, 2003 and 2010 plans.  The main difference is that the number of ecosystem cells has slightly decreased due to the elimination of fire ecosystem process types.

Overall, the percentage of unrepresented (or unfilled) cells has increased slightly from 44.5% to 47.5% due to decreased agency designations and the loss of some Areas of Environmental Concern. The graph below shows how well ecosystem cells, geologic cells and species are protected within each of the ecoregions in this 2010 edition of the plan.  Total changes are summarized below.

Aside from the new marine and estuarine ecoregion, the Natural Areas Program has done a very good job including ecosystems and species in the voluntary network of federal and state natural areas. Most of the focus of the program has been to include as many ecosystems as is possible in natural areas. Only in the Willamette Valley and the Columbia Basin are a majority of ecosystem types unprotected, largely because these ecoregions have so little public land available for natural area designation.  The BLM has done an exceptional job designating natural areas in southeastern Oregon, as has the U.S. Forest Service in the West Cascades.

Numbers of Protected (Represented) and Unprotected types by ecoregion.

Numbers of protected (represented) and unprotected types by ecoregion.

 

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Oregon Explorer Program:

Oregon Explorer Now Using Open Source Software

Since 2007, the Oregon Explorer website has helped researchers, educators, interested citizens, and geographic information systems technicians find information about Oregon’s natural resources. 2010 was an exciting year for the Oregon Explorer Program as the website was enhanced to provide improved usability and access to information about Oregon’s natural resources. The improved Oregon Explorer (still located at http://www.oregonexplorer.info ) offers a single point of access to a series of Explorer sites with interactive, science-based information about such topics as wetlands, wildlife, land use, and important geographic areas in Oregon. The site provides users with integrated access to maps, datasets, photos, stories, and documents about natural resources in the state.

The OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources has been partnering with the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering (NACSE) at OSU to incorporate the use of open-source software as the foundation of the newly updated Oregon Explorer. Cherri Pancake, Director of NACSE, explained the importance of this move. “Open source means that we are using – and extending – software developed by tens of thousands of programmers around the world,” Pancake said. “Sharing code allows us to leverage each other’s efforts.  This not only reduces development costs, but expedites the rate at which each of us can introduce powerful new features.  The new Oregon Explorer is an example of how Oregon State is embracing the worldwide open-source initiative."

 

ILAP and Oregon Explorer Goes Western

A Western Landscapes Explorer portal, built on the Oregon Explorer framework, will provide long-term access to the Integrated Landscape Assessment Project (ILAP) data, models, tools and information.   We anticipate that phase1 of this portal, providing access to landscape-level information for Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico, will be launched by March 2012. The selection of the Oregon Explorer framework was based on a thorough scoping of 12 existing portals and their ability to meet the top 10 evaluation criterion.  Results of the scoping process and subsequent recommendations are presented in a slide presentation (PDF) given to ILAP advisory team members.  Their advice was to develop a portal that would serve the West and offer ways in which to support the Western Governors’ Association initiatives.

 

Two New Wetland Decision-Support Tools Launched

James in Liberia with car trouble.Two new decision-support tools recently were added to the Oregon Wetlands Explorer. The Wetlands Pre-Screening Assessment Tool helps users determine if known wetlands, water bodies or federally listed threatened or endangered species are present within 100 feet of a project location.  It allows users to see project locations on a map, along with wetland, species and habitat information.  Users can also generate reports about wetlands types and species that are nearby.  The Wetland Restoration Planning Tool locates the most appropriate sites at which to implement wetland restoration in a particular watershed, what wetland restoration habitats may be most suitable for that area, and what wetland plants to use during restoration work.  Similar to the Pre-Screening Assessment Tool, the Restoration Planning Tools allows users to visualize wetlands via a map interface and create and download reports about a location.  Currently, these tools cover on the Willamette Valley Ecoregion, but will soon be expanded to other areas of the state.

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Other INR Projects:

ULTRA

The Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA) project, a twin-cities comparison of governance effects on socioeconomic and ecological resilience focused on Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, was funded in summer 2010. A late summer field trip to sites around both cities began the challenging process of coalescing the research team and integrating six components of the overall project: three on-the-ground projects (water quality, stormwater, riparian greenspaces), and three overarching themes (civic ecology, landscape metrics, education). Graduate students are compiling a cross-project survey that is serving as a pivotal integration activity. The ULTRA Advisory Council met for the first time in November, and provided valuable input into how to guide the project and its vision as we move towards writing a much larger proposal for a permanent research site in the two cities. The Advisory Council brings together high level university administrators from Portland State University, Oregon State University, and Washington State University-Vancouver, along with city officials from both sides of the Columbia, active leaders in the non-profit community, and Forest Service researchers with a history across the national Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) system. The Portland-Vancouver ULTRA seeks to provide timely understanding of ecological and community resilience as the Pacific Northwest moves into the twenty-first century facing the combined challenges of continued population growth and significant climate change effects.

 

Science Review of ODF Species of Concern Analyses and Board of Forestry Performance Measures Reports

For the Oregon Board of Forestry, INR recently conducted an independent, outside review of the body of science the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) considered as it evaluated forest management plans and developed the Species of Concern Strategy. The INR Science Advisory Team (SAT) – comprised of researchers from OSU and the U.S. Forest Service and chaired by Brenda McComb of the OSU College of Forestry – reviewed two products developed by ODF staff that were the focus of this science review: The Influence of Modeled Management Scenarios on Habitat for Species of Concern and The Board of Forestry State Forests Performance Measures: An Evaluation of the Achievement. The INR Science Advisory Team review report underwent a secondary blind review by five experts from Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the U.S. Forest Service, OSU, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and was open for public comment. View the full report online.

 

Natural Resources and the Rural Economy Forums

The Institute for Natural Resources and the Institute for Policy Research (IPRI) at the University of Oregon are partnering on a project to clarify and assess the emerging “New” Natural Resource Economy (NNRE).  NNRE is a summary descriptor of a set of environmental restoration and management activities that also present economic development opportunities for rural communities. More details can be found in the June 2010 INR e-newsletter.

The project now underway includes an inventory of NNRE business types in rural Oregon along with modified targeted industry case studies in three rural settings to provide in-depth context. These activities will be followed by analysis of the business and policy implications and needs for rural communities. INR and IPRI will then conduct a structured dialogue that includes business leaders and key decision makers to identify needed policies and actions by partnerships among the private sector, governments and NGOs to accelerate the emerging NNRE to benefit natural resource-based rural economies.  In addition to the inventory, case studies and policy assessment, work products will include an NNRE guidebook that can readily be used by other states and local areas with needs similar to those of Oregon rural communities.

INR and IPRI have assembled an expert panel that will provide advice on all phases of the project and will participate in the structured dialogue. The panel includes staff from the Governor’s office, members of the Oregon Business Development Department, county elected officials, NGOs, natural resource-related business representatives and academics. Panel members from OSU include Bruce Weber, Director, Rural Studies Institute; Scott Reed, Extension Service, Vice Provost for University Outreach and Engagement; and Beth Emshoff, Extension Service Metro Specialist.

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Other INR News:

INR Staff Go International

Italy and Paris

Todd Jarvis and Aaron Wolf collaborated on a chapter in a book on Transboundary Water Management edited by hydropolitical scholars with the Stockholm International Water Institute and published by Earthscan. The book has contributions from some of the most forward thinking academics and practitioners in hydropolitics, international water law, water negotiations, groundwater hydrology, and capacity building in the world. The book is designed as a training manual of sorts; Todd anticipates redesigning his eCampus course in International Water Resources Management (GEO 424/524) around the book. “I was honored to be invited to prepare a chapter in the book with Aaron Wolf. I think the book will be a great addition to the body of literature on transboundary water management, not only because it goes beyond the surface water management where most texts focus, but also because the book provides many case studies, including the groundwater depletion situation in the Umatilla Basin in Oregon.”

Todd Jarvis also introduced a new training manual on Shared Waters that was edited by Aaron Wolf and Lisa Gaines as part of the "Water Conflict Management" Training of Trainers from Africa: 20-24 September 2010, Perugia, Italy. This training course was held on the premises of the WWAP Secretariat, at Villa La Colombella in Perugia, Italy. He trained ten trainers from African countries, among Botswana, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The training was sponsored by UNESCO-PCCP (from Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential)  which is a WWAP and UNESCO-IHP program that facilitates multi-level and interdisciplinary dialogues in order to foster peace, cooperation and development related to the management of transboundary water resources. OSU has a long history of working with PCCP through Aaron Wolf and the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database. As part of the training, Todd started an English translation of the pizza menu at the nearby Agriturismo restaurant.

To pull the new book and water conflict training all together, Todd was invited to serve on the Scientific Committee for the international conference Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and New Directions held in Paris during early December. The conference was organized around the Draft Articles of the Law of Transboundary Aquifers that is under consideration by the UN General Assembly. Todd presented two papers at the conference one focusing on the vexing problem of placing boundaries around groundwater systems and a second on the application of *unitization* law as applied in the oil and gas industry to transboundary aquifers as a means for aquifer governance and acknowledging sovereignty since transboundary aquifers are “no longer just about water according to the Draft Articles,” says Todd.

 

Liberia

James in Liberia with car trouble.Last July, James Johnston traveled to Liberia in western Africa on a US State Department Educational and Cultural Affairs grant to meet with government and NGO officials to advise them on the development of environmental policies in the wake of Liberia’s devastating civil war.  Johnston spent three weeks traveling to meet with a variety of stakeholders throughout Liberia learning about the challenges facing natural resource management in their country.

Management of natural resources in Liberia is difficult for a number of reasons, including complex land tenure issues and the lack of capacity on the part of government agencies.  Creative, collaborative solutions are at a great premium.  James traveled more than 800 miles, mostly on primitive roads, and attended more than a dozen community meetings.  He came away deeply impressed with Liberian civil society and the potential for positive change.

“In the wake of the civil war, Liberia rural citizens are deeply, deeply civically engaged in every aspect of natural resource management.  The key to successful resource management is going to be partnerships between government and local stakeholders, not specific laws or policies,” he said.  “I ended up spending about 99% of my time learning and 1% of my time teaching.  I told everyone that if they can create effective collaborative resource management, we’d copy their ideas in the United States.”

 

Jordan

In June 2010, Janine Salwasser was invited to join a Forest Service team to help with the outreach needed to conduct a National Forest Inventory in Jordan.  Jack Triepke, Forest Service regional ecologist in Region 3 and also SW co-lead for ILAP, led the team.  Forests in Jordan are a lot like the wetlands in the United States, not very many left, but highly valued where they do exist.  United Nation estimates have placed the Jordan forest amount at 0.9 percent over the last 3 decades. It is not really known how much forests there really are, where they are, what their species composition is, or how many forest is natural vs. introduced, etc. 

Understanding what questions about the forest were most important to the Jordanians was the first task. Six days were spent with a group of 30 people representing the Ministry of Agriculture – Forestry Department, Ministry of Environment, Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Al-Shejarah, Royal Botanical Gardens, Royal Geographic Society, Jordan University of Science and Technology, and the U.S. Forest Service International Programs team.  Through a fascinating group process that involved field visits, numerous translators, lots of cups of sweet mint tea and Turkish coffee, a pad of flip chart paper, and many ideas and opinions, the Jordanian group narrowed the most important questions to be 1) how much forest exists, and 2) what is the composition of the forest?  With this understanding, an inventory was proposed involving a combination of photo-interpreted plots across the entire country and a sub-sample of field visited plots to validate photo-interpreted plots and measure species composition.  A return trip in 2011 is planned to train staff from each of the groups on how to do the inventory, followed by implementation of the actual inventory. Who knows, perhaps one day, ILAP will stand for the International Landscape Assessment Project!

Photos from Jordan.

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