Blog Contributor: Bridget McGlynn
Building resilience into sustainable community development is the core aim of The Pruhommes Projects, a partnership between The Town of Lincoln, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and the Environmental Sustainable Research Centre. An essential component to enhancing resilience is finding a meaningful way to measure the impact of different sustainable development strategies. The current phase of the project is focusing on developing a tool to assess the social-ecological resilience of multifunctional landscapes in the Town of Lincoln.
Social-ecological resilience refers to a way of thinking that recognizes the complex interactions between society and ecosystems. Resilience is an approach that encourages broad and meaningful participation by stakeholders, learning from feedback, and taking action for biosphere stewardship. Resilience, in the context of social-ecological systems, is the ability to maintain and persist in light of changing conditions, to adapt when needed, and to transform when persistence and adaptation are no longer feasible for a desirable future. It embraces the idea of change and acknowledges uncertainty. Social-ecological resilience can be framed as the capacity of the system to maintain the desired ecosystem services in the face of change.
Furthermore, multifunctional landscapes are essentially just that – landscapes that provide people with a variety of services (Pauleit et al., 2011). Multifunctional landscapes are characterized by multiple land uses and landscape structures and are seen as a possible mechanism to meet societal demands for competing for land use needs. Ashby Park, Vineland’s Tree Culture Research Park, and Prudhommes Development are examples of different multifunctional landscapes in the Town of Lincoln.
To develop a tool to assess social-ecological resilience, the research team first had to address this question:
What criteria ideally capture social-ecological resilience in multifunctional landscapes
in the Town of Lincoln?
To address this research question, the research team held a priority-setting workshop to prioritize criteria for assessing multifunctional landscapes for the Town of Lincoln. A priority-setting workshop captures a variety of perspectives and provides a safe space to voice and explore ideas among various stakeholders. Furthermore, the collaborative activities provide an opportunity for each participant to develop a more concrete understanding of their own perspectives and priorities as well as hear from others with differing opinions. Priority-setting workshops have been shown to aid in gaining consensus among a group of different stakeholders (Witkowski et al., 2022).
The workshop was held Friday, June 17 at the Vineland Campus in Lincoln, Ontario. There was a total of 12 participants present at the workshop and two facilitators. This workshop brought together Town of Lincoln staff and relevant subject experts to come to a consensus on appropriate criteria for the assessment tool. At the start of the workshop, the facilitators delivered a presentation to explain the background of the project, social-ecological resilience, and workshop activities. The presentation was followed by three activities: individual Q-sort and questionnaire, consensus building, and group discussion and brainstorming.
For the Q-sort activity, participants were given a list of 30 criteria. Participants sorted the criteria into a forced 28-item distribution ranking system, ranging from +4 (most important) to -4 (least important). The Q-sort activity assisted each participant in identifying the types of criteria which were most and least important for assessing social-ecological resilience.
Following the Q-sort activity, participants grouped together for a consensus-building activity. Initially in pairs, the participants co-developed a new prioritized list of criteria. Following the first round, pairs joined together to once again co-develop a new prioritized list of criteria.
Following the consensus-building activity, all participants rejoined for a group brainstorming activity. The three groups presented their final co-developed priority criteria lists. The discussion that followed highlighted the need for criteria to capture essential topics, such as: provision of recreation infrastructure; accessibility; water quality and quantity; soil quality and quantity; biodiversity and vegetation; the economic case; and air quality.
During the discussion, many participants reflected upon how current stressors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent May 2022 windstorm had influenced participants’ prioritized criteria. Furthermore, the fruitful discussion highlighted the various data collection initiatives in the Niagara region in relation to multifunctional landscapes. Overall, the workshop provided the essential insight needed to progress the development of an assessment tool for the social-ecological resilience of multifunctional landscapes in the Town of Lincoln, as well as developed the groundwork for broader collaboration moving forward.
Pauleit, S., Liu, L., Ahern, J., and Kazmierczak, A. (2011). Multifunctional green infrastructure planning to promote ecological services in the city. In Handbook of urban ecology. Oxford University Press.
Witkowski, S., Plummer, R. and Hutson, G. (2022) Influences of Engaging in a Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Process on Stakeholder Perceptions of Key Performance Indicators for Trails. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 40. doi: 10.18666/JPRA-2021-10953