Tech for TEK: The Value of GIS Systems in Sustainable Community Planning and Indigenous Land Protection Initiatives.

Shahreen Shehwar

In Oct 2022, my book chapter, “Tech for TEK: The Value of GIS Systems in Sustainable Community Planning and Indigenous Land Protection Initiatives,” was published in “The Emerging Role of Geomedia in the Environmental Humanities,” a book that features chapters from diverse authors to discuss the various methods and approaches being used by environmental humanists to incorporate geomedia into their research and analyses. My chapter in the book explores how participatory geospatial information systems (PGIS) is helping mobilize Indigenous voices within natural resource management, highlighting case studies of Canada’s First Nations communities using PGIS platforms to store and share Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), also known as Indigenous Knowledge. The chapter identifies how Indigenous peoples believe and practice sustainable, community-based natural resource management. However, it also conveys how Indigenous communities are being negatively impacted by intensified land use and extractive industries. Furthermore, it discusses how Indigenous communities are often not adequately recognized as stakeholders in natural resource management. PGIS, “participatory approaches of spatial planning, spatial information, and communications management,” can be used by Indigenous peoples to store Indigenous Knowledge (Rambaldi et al., 2005, cited in Shehwar, 2022). storing TEK can contribute to mobilizing this knowledge towards addressing specific environmental threats, creating sustainable communities, and natural resource management. Broadly, this presentation will focus on how community-level planning with the help of PGIS can lead to system-level changes in environmental protections.

Applications of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity to Saugeen Ojibway Nation Land Claims.

Kaitlin Pal

This research project is a case study on the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) land claims in Ontario and relates to themes of Indigenous Truth and Occupation. It applies metrics of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity to assess the value of land dispossessed through colonialism. Traditional SON lands in Ontario are currently owned by provincial and federal governments since they were stolen by the British Crown upon the breaching of Treaty 45.5 in 1854. This treaty ceded 1.5 million acres of land to the British Crown in exchange for their promise to protect the Saugeen Peninsula forever. SON states that the Crown misled them in negotiations regarding the surrendering of their land, thus dispossessing them of their traditional territory. Through this case, they are seeking ownership of land not owned by third parties, recognition of title, and financial compensation.

Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity metrics can be used to assess the value of the land associated with the claim. To do so, the biocapacity of the land is calculated and multiplied by the monetary value of land per hectare in Ontario to assess the monetary value of what was dispossessed. Assessing the monetary value of the land that was dispossessed speaks to political interests, is easily recognizable by a large audience, and can be applied to phase 2 of the case where financial compensation will be determined. Research on the exclusive and sufficient use of SON’s traditional territory prior to the breaching of treaty will also be applied to this case.

It is important to consider the biocapacity of a region when making legal decisions regarding land claim cases. Collecting data on biocapacity and the use of the region being considered is important in determining any financial compensation that the community may or may not receive. Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity metrics show the loss of physical land and resources, and the ways that environmental research can influence legal decisions.

Empowering marginalised mountain communities to act for change.

Prof Dr Nijnik   Additional Authors: David Miller, Diana Valero, Mariana Melnykovych, Ruth Wilson, Jon Hopkins, Stanislav Martinat, Stanislava Brnkalakova and Tatiana Kluvankova

A demographic trend in marginalized mountain areas of Europe has been the out-migration of younger people and relocation of population from the most remote areas into nearby villages and towns. This has exacerbated the trend in the demographic profile of an ageing population with implications for delivering services and public policy addressing societal inequalities. Challenges for some mountain areas include poverty, social exclusion, and a decline in public services, whereas in others large-scale development (e.g., of tourism complexes, renewable energy) creates significant environmental pressures.

This research employs a case study-based, mixed methods approach to understanding the challenges facing remote villages in Scottish Highlands, and the Alpine (Swiss) and Carpathian Mountains, as examples, and designing solutions to empower marginalized communities to act for change. We explore existing perspectives concerning the sustainable development of such areas and the role of social innovation for its delivery. We advance the conceptual and practical knowledge of social innovation and reveal its potential in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We demonstrate that social innovation can help in tackling societal challenges, utilizing opportunities, and enabling third-sector actors to realise their capabilities, while improving social inclusion and reducing inequality. A challenge is how to balance trade-offs (between tourism and nature restoration; bioenergy production and biodiversity conservation, etc.) and take advantage of opportunities available in the mountains. Our findings inform the design of policy and practice measures in European mountain areas to address sustainability and promote social justice. Acknowledgements – This research is funded by the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme 2022-2027, the VEGA 2/0170/21 project in Slovakia, and the EU-funded projects of SIMRA (GA 677622), SHERPA (GA 862448) and RURACTIVE.