Road to Solutions — Environmental & Social Justice
Harnessing Spatiotemporal Data Science to Predict Responses of Biodiversity and Rural Communities under Climate Change
In response to a changing climate, populations of plants and animals move to more hospitable locations. Predicting where species will end up, and how New England farmers and rural communities need to plan for such changes, is the focus of a new interdisciplinary research initiative led by the University of Maine. The project’s goal is to better understand how plant and animal species — including forest plants, wildlife, diseases transmitted from animals to people, and agricultural crops — will respond to a changing climate in the next century.
Vacationland. Take one look at Maine’s license plate and you see the widespread importance of tourism to the state. Maine’s natural resources attract visitors from all over the world but are also vulnerable to climate change, which is likely to impact visitors as well as communities dependent on tourism. This project seeks to move beyond traditional power structures and collaborate with community partners to co-develop locally relevant, useful climate change solutions. The result of this collaboration will be a participatory framework to build climate-planning capacity within tourism-dependent communities.
The research and engagement of Collaborating Toward Climate Solutions (CTCS) is designed to support on-the-ground problem-solving for the complex challenges that communities face with climate change. The research team is working closely with community partners to co-develop strategies and extension/assistance services to foster adaptation and resilience. This includes learning about community priorities and challenges and identifying potential service-provider partners, best practices, and the potential for networks that enable towns to connect with peer communities.
Through this project, the Mitchell Center is assisting the Maine Climate Council to understand and improve the extent to which the draft strategies being considered as part of the council’s Climate Action Plan ensure that the benefits of climate protection efforts are distributed equitably. The team is also addressing inequities in how the burdens created by climate change and the policies designed to alleviate it may affect people and communities.
Sustainability science is best when bringing together different forms of knowledge to address societal problems. This research project addresses the barriers and pathways of bringing indigenous science (IS) together with western academic science.
Understanding the barriers and opportunities for integrating and sharing data from disparate sources is critical to create more usable knowledge that fits within existing social and political structures. This project provides a solution to tailor data integration and information sharing to the specific needs of key stakeholder groups—state and federal regulators, industry developers, and a tribal environmental program.
In January 2017, the Mitchell Center launched the Strengthening Coastal Economies project as part of the Diana Davis Spencer Partnership for a Sustainable Maine. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to develop, implement and evaluate solutions to complex problems requiring a careful balance between economic development and environmental preservation.
This project builds and expands on the 2018 Food Waste Reduction project which was focused on food loss, food waste, and barriers to establishing a circular food system and environmental sustainability while addressing food insecurity.
The invasive emerald ash borer could decimate Maine’s ash trees—and jeopardize the livelihoods of Maine’s Indian basket makers, who rely on the tree for their time-honored craft…