Abstract: The Resilient Islands Project in the Dominican Republic

I will conduct research with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) this summer to work on the Resilient Islands project. I will be studying how Community-based Adaptation (CbA) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approaches can be used to better prepare communities in the Caribbean for the effects of climate change. CbA and EbA together work to address ecosystem health and functioning to help local communities be better prepared to adapt to the negative effects of climate change. CbA centers on working on climate change adaptations on a local level by responding to the concerns of the community and working to address these specific  concerns (Van Aalst 2006). EbA uses biodiversity and ecosystem services, in conjunction with other approaches, to help people adapt to the negative effects of climate change on local, regional, and global levels (Mwangi). EbA benefits communities by keeping ecosystems healthy and improving their function. Healthy ecosystems benefit communities through ecosystem services like clean air and water (Mwangi).

I will work with Dr. Steven Schill, the primary mapping scientist for the Caribbean Ecoregion Plan for TNC. I will be joining TNC at its field sites in the Dominican Republic to work on the Resilient Islands Project at a local level. We will assess the vulnerability of communities and then work with leaders in the communities to propose locally tailored solutions to the risks and threats. I will examine how mixed methods approaches can be used to make biological conservation that helps both human communities and ecosystems more successful.

 Using my geographic information science (GIS) background, I will work with TNC to evaluate ecosystem health. Remote sensing tools, such as drones, will be used to collect data on coral reef health. Then traditional hands-on methods, like scuba dives, will be used to validate the data. For instance, drones will be used to collect information on the health and species presence of coral reefs, then dives will be conducted to validate this information.

  I propose to work with TNC  this summer to learn about how policies are recommended and implemented. I will conduct a literature review of CbA and EbA methods. Then, I will travel to the field sites in the Caribbean—the islands of the Dominican Republic —where I will learn firsthand what data collection methods are used. I will assist with remote sensing data collection as well as data validation through scuba diving. I will also work on GIS analysis and speak to local and government stakeholders.

Working with TNC, I will learn how tools are used to help with management and how these tools are applied in non-academic settings. I will learn how local and community knowledge can be partnered powerfully with biological knowledge to address a changing climate.  I would like to learn how stakeholders at local, regional, and national government levels can work together to help communities adapt and prepare for climate change effects.

I propose to examine the following questions:

  1. What techniques are used for assessing a community’s vulnerability to climate change?
  2. How can EbA and CbA methods be implemented by the Resilient Island Project to address climate change in the Caribbean?
  3. How can geospatial tools be implemented to help communities prepare for changing climate conditions?

 

Sources:

Mwangi, Patrick. Ecosystem Based Adaptation | Climate Change – Adaptation, web.unep.org/climatechange/adaptation/what-we-do/ecosystem-based-adaptation.


Van Aalst, Maarten K., Terry Cannon, and Ian Burton. “Community level adaptation to climate change: the potential role of participatory community risk assessment.” Global environmental change 18.1 (2008): 165-179.

 

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