Resolving conflicts between food security and biodiversity conservation under uncertainty (ConFooBio)
ConFooBio is funded by an EU H2020 ERC Starting Grant to Nils Bunnefeld (2016-2022) (Link to official EU project website)
Postdocs/Fellows: Dr Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, Dr Jeremy Cusack, Dr Brad Duthie, Dr Jeroen Minderman, Dr Isabel Jones, Dr Rocio Pozo, Dr Laura Thomas-Walters, Dr Isla Hodgson
A different approach—researchers, farmers, environmentalists, politicians and artists looking at the conflict over increased populations of greylag geese in Orkney – together but from different perspectives.
During The Wild Goose Chase project, Orcadian musicians, Jennifer Austin and Eric Linklater were invited to join the University of Stirling ConFooBio team and artist Sera James Irvine whilst they visited different part of the islands to meet up with farmers who had taken part in the research project.
The idea was to have people from diverse professional backgrounds sharing their different perspectives in places that took people out of their normal working environments. Sera created a series of events outside of the usual meeting room presentation scenario in order to give people the opportunity to talk and reflect. From these events and the research carried out in ConFooBio, Sera produced the newspaper “The Wild Goose Chase: The hunt for the voice of the Orkney farmer“.
Eric and Jennifer took part in these events where the researchers shared the progress of the research project and gave the farmers and others present the chance to share their thoughts and experiences in relation to the increase in the number of Greylag geese on the islands.
As part of Jennifer’s involvement she composed two pieces which were a reflection on the project and were inspired by their travels around the islands and conversations about the geese, the environment, farming, the sea, culture and history.
The first, The Unexpected Guest, was composed with Eric and is a traditional piece for piano and violin.
The second, Teran’s Lullaby, is a piano composition by Jennifer.
We have produced an online game that is free to play (please play this game, we are still collecting data from this!) https://www.scienceathome.org/games/crops_vs_creatures/
Please download and contribute to our Generalised Management Strategy Evaluation package in R, freely accessible code here https://github.com/ConFooBio
The ConFooBio game data can be accessed here https://reshare.ukdataservice.ac.uk/854068/
The wild good chase is a collaboration between artist Sera James Irvine and the ConFooBio team. Sera and the ConFooBio team went back to Orkney to say thanks to all that have contributed to the project and Sera produced the newspaper The Wild Goose Chase.
Conflicts between food security and biodiversity conservation are increasing in scale and intensity and have been shown to be damaging for both biodiversity and human livelihoods. Uncertainty, for example from climate change, decreases food security, puts further pressure on biodiversity and exacerbates conflicts.
ConFooBio proposes to develop management strategies for conflicts between biodiversity conservation and food security under uncertainty. ConFooBio will integrate game theory and social-ecological modelling to develop new theory to mitigate conservation conflicts. ConFooBio will implement a three-tiered approach 1) characterise and analyse 7 real-world conservation conflicts impacted by uncertainty; 2) develop new game theory that explicitly incorporates uncertainty; and 3) produce and test a flexible social-ecological model, applicable to real-world conflicts where stakeholders operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. ConFooBio focuses on the following 7 case studies:
The project has importance for society at large because ecosystems and their services are central to human wellbeing. Managing a specific natural resource often results in conflict between those stakeholders focussing on improving food security and those focussed on biodiversity conversation. ConFooBio will illuminate new strategies to such conflicts by showing how to achieve synergies that protect biodiversity and secure livelihoods. This project will develop a practical, transparent and flexible model for the sustainable future of natural resources that is also robust to uncertainty (e.g., climate change). The project aims to be relevant for environmental negotiations among stakeholders with competing objectives from local to global (e.g. the negotiations to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).
For updates and publications follow the link to official EU project website.
2) We have developed and implemented 216 game workshops with 864 stakeholders across three countries (Scotland, Gabon and Madagascar) to evaluate the impacts of different conflict interventions (subsidies, compensation payments) on stakeholders’ decision making (scaring, killing, habitat conservation). These games take into account the uncertainty of where and when wildlife occurs and on which land parcels. Along with the games we have administered questionnaire surveys with the same 864 participants across the same countries (Scotland, Gabon and Madagascar) to identify key determinants of individual and group behaviour (values, attitudes, local perceptions of equity and trust, socio-demographics). We are currently in the process of analysing the data and preparing a manuscrips.
3) We have developed a novel modelling framework to predict wildlife management outcomes in the presence of stakeholder disagreement and conflict. Our new software for social-ecological modelling called Generalised Management Strategy Evaluation (GMSE) and underlying code is freely available as a package in the statistical software R and on GitHub and has been downloaded over 8 thousand times. The description of the package and its capabilities was published in the peer-reviewed journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution in 2018. The next steps will be to show the broad and realistic applicability of the GMSE model and to apply it to real world case studies.
We have also developed a novel game-based approach using tablet computers, where people make decisions about wildlife populations that damage their agricultural crops. Decisions range from scaring to killing to setting aside habitat for conservation under treatments of compensation payments and subsidies. These games are accessible to illiterate and innumerate participants and capturing spatial and temporal dynamics of wildlife and decisions made to help people voice their needs and stimulate discussion on their motives and decision processes in conflicts between conservation of biodiversity and food production and security.