Summer 2 Leadership In Action Reflection – Investigating Nature-Based Solutions

Article by Bev Genockey (Laidlaw Scholar 2020, Zoology)

My summer two work on my Laidlaw project was both exciting and challenging, and has presented me with great opportunities to engage with individuals and groups relevant to my research interests, as well as reaffirming my desire to extend my work in this research area beyond the two summers of the Laidlaw programme.

This summer, my focus was on applying the main conclusion from my summer one research project which was: the benefits of nature-based solutions are obvious, but their widespread implementation has been slow. This summer, I focused on engaging with my research question directly, rather than in abstraction, and began to focus on the feasibility and likelihood of implementing nature-based solutions in Dublin, ranging from fine scale to city-wide implementation.

In order to do this, I had to engage with the majority stakeholders of the process: ecologists, citizens and residents – each in different ways. This, of course, was a task easier said than done, and to give the appropriate amount of time to each group across the six week research period that I had was a near impossible task, so I had to readjust my approach slightly. To this end, I decided to focus primarily on engaging directly with citizens and residents, through surveying them, and my engagement with ecologists came through ad-hoc conversations. I also read extensively on the topic, particularly through less-academic mediums such as blog posts, popular science books and interviews about how society interacts with nature. In the same way that my summer one research aimed to demonstrate the importance of nature-based solutions in mitigating climate and ecological problems, my summer two project contributed to improving science communication around the importance of implementing nature-based solutions.

It is my belief that some reason for the lack of widespread implementation of nature-based solutions is a combination of residents’ uncertainty and lack of knowledge around the topic. Of course, these aren’t the only reasons, and the slow implementation in certain instances can also be attributed to alack of political will. This summer, through my engagement with residents I aimed to identify gaps in their knowledge of biodiversity and nature based solutions in an effort to improve communication and increase their desire for climate-change mitigating incentives in their local communities. A large factor in the successful implementation of nature-based solutions in cities, and particularly residential areas, is in the understanding of the concept by residents, as well as their enthusiasm for such projects. So, for this reason, this summer I focused on communicating these benefits to residents of Dublin, particularly residents of the areas which I used as field sites during my summer 1 project, such as Glasnevin, Ringsend, and The Liberties.

The benefits of my summer two project were twofold – the results of the survey and residents’ perspectives on nature-based solutions can be useful in complementing my earlier research in making the case for nature-based solutions to relevant parties, and has also broadened my own personal network of connections to those working in the same area, providing an array of opportunities for future collaborations.

My work on this particular project will undoubtedly continue throughout the year, and perhaps beyond that. The objectives of my summer two project were ambitious and at times seemed impossible due to certain time constraints, but ultimately, I think that it was a successful summer of work. It was great to interact with people directly and discuss ecology and sustainability, particularly having spent the previous summer doing desk and field-based research completely alone!

Through my research with the Laidlaw programme, I have certainly discovered an area which interests me greatly, and I am excited to continue working on this and similar projects in the near future.

interact with people directly and discuss ecology and sustainability, particularly having spent theprevious summer doing desk and field-based research completely alone!Through my research with the Laidlaw programme, I have certainly discovered an area whichinterests me greatly, and I am excited to continue working on this and similar projects in the nearfuture.

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