Sustaining Multifunctional Landscapes through Expertise Networks

 Driftless Area from the Air  Expertise network 3 subgroups

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Think of a view you know like the back of your hand. Is it like a machine, or more like your child, sister or spouse? A landscape is a whole, valuable to those who love it and use it precisely because it is complex and irreplaceable. But what if emerging bioenergy market forces enticed poor forestry practices, and your hills washed away? Or your neighbor decided to cash in her sand mining rights? Could your local experts create policies that adapt to these changes while preserving the unique multifunctionality of your place?

My research looks across all landscape sectors and the expertise areas that go with them to identify holes, redundancies, and leverage points for strategically improving how natural resource experts share their knowledge in a rural county in southwest Wisconsin. I interviewed 27 natural resource experts (key county rule-makers plus their informants), plus 8 others to understand the context. I use social network analysis to create sociographs (network pictures) and metrics that indicate the capacity of this expertise network to support governance of the landscape as a whole so it can adapt with changing times. Advised by Mark Rickenbach, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Funded by the Hatch and Renewable Resources Acts, and the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (DOE Office of Science BER DE-FC02-07ER64494). Tools used included: social network analysis, project management, personnel evaluation, and mixed-methods research.

Building relationships with the people you are studying is the bare minimum I ask for ethical research!
Building relationships with the people you are studying is the bare minimum I ask for ethical research!