Biocultural Resilience in the Pacific

The CBC’s project on enhancing resilience in biocultural landscapes is generating valuable new data on the importance of biodiversity to food security and climate change adaptation. Led by Dr. Eleanor Sterling, CBC Chief Conservation Scientist, in collaboration with several partners, the project is funded by two grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Lynnette and Richard Jaffe, the Jaffe Family Foundation, and SNAPP: Science for Nature and People Partnership

The project is collecting data at Solomon Islands sites that differ in terms of their level of cultural transformation and connection with global markets. At each of four sites—Zaira on Vangunu Island; Biche on Gatokae Island; Vavanga on Kolombangara Island; and West Parara on Parara Island—the project team is collecting data on food, resilience, and disaster preparedness; documentation of valued plants and local knowledge about plants in each community; garden surveys; and landbased surveys focusing on freshwater vertebrates and forest vegetation. This summer, the team also began collecting social-cultural data to examine aspects of governance, knowledge transmission, cooperation, and leadership. 

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In May 2016, the team ran a suite of workshops in each community on landscape change over time, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery from the 1940s through the present. These workshops identified several common themes, including more severe and unpredictable weather, new garden pests, reduced fish catches, increases in human population, and reduced freshwater quality and quantity. In some cases, there had been dramatic changes arising from commercial logging activity. They also considered ways the community might grow or relocate to accommodate increased populations and natural threats that are likely due to changes in climate. This approach fostered the sharing of stories about the history of the landscape, and helped all participants understand past changes and envision a future that can guide and chart upcoming management actions.