Dr Hagerman is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines the science-policy-management interface in the context of adapting conservation and resource management to climate and other drivers of change.
Dr. Shannon Hagerman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Resources Management and Principal Investigator of the Social-Ecological Systems Research Group at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines the science-policy-management interface in the context of adapting conservation and resource management to climate and other drivers of change. Her decades-long work on the emergence and evolution of novel interventions for forests and biodiversity (e.g. assisted migration, and increasingly new biotechnologies) reveals the contested, value-laden and inescapably social and political dimensions that shape transformative change.
Shannon is actively involved in service to broader academic and practitioner communities including through initiatives that seek to better incorporate insights from the social sciences into policy and practice. She teaches human dimensions of conservation, and qualitative research methods and is a proud recipient of the Killam Teaching Prize in 2018, and the Faculty of Forestry Research Award in 2021.
Assisted migration and the reluctant acceptance of new forest interventions as a climate adaptation strategy
The use of assisted migration (AM) as a climate adaptation strategy in forests has passed an inflection point. No longer a tentative proposal, AM is becoming a reality in jurisdictions across Canada. While myriad uncertainties persist, pilot programs are now well underway, including in British Columbia (BC). Gaining a complete understanding of the effectiveness and feasibility of AM at scale requires not only a thorough comprehension of ecological impacts, but of societal dimensions as well.
We report on the findings across a five-year study which examined how publics, stakeholders, and end users think about the risks, benefits, and overall acceptability of AM. Our findings are based on datasets that include public and practitioner surveys, focus groups and cost-benefit analyses in four forest-dependent communities, in-depth interviews, and document analyses. The results show resigned acceptance of the inevitability of increasing interventions in forests, with all of the groups studied being significantly less supportive of AM outside of natural range as opposed to within. Crucially, far more than the intervention itself, the risks that people are most concerned with revolve around who will deploy the technology, how decisions about its use will be made, and whether AM will merely perpetuate status quo models of forest governance that are not widely accepted. We discuss the role of knowledge politics in perpetuating the status quo, and how values about what is perceived as natural, and mistrust in managing authorities contributes to what can best be described as reluctant support for AM.
As a future of increased interventions seems all but inevitable, issues of knowledge, values, and trust require resolution. Accordingly, involving diverse perspectives at early stages of policy-making is essential to ensure that new technologies – like AM – address the broader needs of society, and not just a select few.