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Incorporating Local Knowledge and Natural Resources Usage Into South Florida Ecosystem Restoration InitiativesEPA Grant Number: U915840
Title: Incorporating Local Knowledge and Natural Resources Usage Into South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiatives
Investigators: Ogden, Laura A.
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Just, Theodore J.
Project Amount: $74,218
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Economics and Decision Sciences
The overall goal of this research project is to develop a model that can be used by land management agencies involved in the greater South Florida ecosystem restoration effort to involve the public in the process. The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) use ethnographic methods to examine the cultural significance of the local landscape in a small community within the Everglades ecosystem; and (2) assist land management agencies associated with this community in developing a Community Involvement Plan that incorporates local knowledge. Because this plan will be based on the community's perceptions of the landscape as a social and cultural place (with its own local history and economic uses), it will be sensitive to the community’s objectives and concerns for the future. Restoration initiatives will proceed with or without public support for the process, yet the long-term possibilities for success will be enhanced considerably if local communities become partners in the process.
My general hypothesis is that community involvement will become more substantial and less divisive if participation strategies are designed based on local communities' cultural understandings of the Everglades landscape. This hypothesis has been developed to test the utility of the ethnoecology approach in the development of community involvement strategies in ecosystem restoration initiatives. This research project includes two parts: a fieldwork component and the application of the research. The fieldwork includes ethnographic interviews designed to elicit community members' cultural understanding of the local landscape and a survey designed to determine community members’ perceptions of environmental and management problems. The applied element of the research project involves working with natural resource managers to develop a long-term Community Involvement Plan based on this research.
Although the Community Involvement Plan will be long term, I will help to: (1) develop a seminar for land management agencies to teach associated agency representatives about the community's history and historic uses of the landscape; (2) develop a map that portrays the local place names of the landscape, which will include a narrative description of the derivation of these place names (the stories attached to these place names); and (3) work with agency representatives to implement a strategy for addressing one specific problem that is revealed in the survey component of the fieldwork.