Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • Icon for: Jeffrey Lidz

    Jeffrey Lidz

    Judge
    May 21, 2013 | 04:02 p.m.

    I’m not clear about whether the purpose of this project is to validate a research method or to understand the social dimensions of PWS. Can you explain more about what the primary contribution of this project is?

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 07:57 p.m.

    Hello Dr. Lidz,
    Thank you for your question, and I hope my response offers clarification. The primary goal of my research is to understand what PWS programs are doing within rural communities, particularly in terms of social dimensions. My research is designed to demonstrate how household and community labor dynamics shift along with the adoption of new land use practices that are a requirement of a PWS program. To accomplish this, I needed to develop a systematic way to capture the complexity of the local socio-ecological arrangements and assess how they interact with the PWS program. Because there has been no previous research investigating the role of PWS in communities in a similar manner, I have engaged in the challenge of developing the set of methods that are highlighted in my video and poster presentation. Although the set of methods were developed specifically to address the FONAG case study, I am hopeful that they can be adapted to address some of the other PWS programs that are rapidly sprouting up throughout Latin America and the rest of the world.

  • Icon for: Sandra Pinel

    Sandra Pinel

    Judge
    May 21, 2013 | 09:18 p.m.

    This is an important study and could provide a major contribution to assessing the impacts of such policies (I also work in Ecuador and SE Asia. How could you identify cause and effect variables to assess the impact of Payments on practices in relation to other drivers of change such as crop disease, coastal jobs, etc? Also, how might this method be used over time to measure change?

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 04:21 p.m.

    Hello Dr. Pinel,
    You are correct to note that land use and labor practices are generally the culmination of several different interacting variables, of which the engagement of FONAG is one. In the land use walking tour itself, I ask a variety of questions to understand the decision-making process of the particular site I am visiting. I inquire about the land use history of the site, asking participants to tell me about the site since it was acquired, to describe what is there now, and the future plans for the site. I ask questions about why they chose what to produce and what practices to apply. From this, I am able to document the general history and strategy of the household for land management.

    Drivers such as family members working elsewhere (usually in the flower industry) sending remittances and the history of particular crop diseases tend to arise in the interview and develop into patterns over the course of several of these tours. As my focus is on FONAG itself and the experience of the households with FONAG, I am particularly gathering data on which practices and which sites the participant perceives as being more directly influenced by FONAG.

    I am also collecting data on variables including household demographics, labor access, land access, and capital access. Part of my challenge is just trying to understand the household in terms of their resources. Much of my data is entered into a survey format, so I may be able to create a logistic regression model to analyze relationships between the adoption of FONAG practices and other household and land use variables. To look at change in a community, I think follow-up interviews in 5 to 10 years would be appropriate. FONAG intervention projects started about 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve already noticed that the majority of households so far reported dropping formal involvement in the economic projects of FONAG within about 2 or 3 years if they don’t seem to be getting their labor investment back, but they may keep other related practices.

  • Icon for: Wayde Morse

    Wayde Morse

    Judge
    May 21, 2013 | 10:34 p.m.

    Understanding the impact on labor through changes in land use driven by participation in a PWS program is an interesting new angle on these programs. How do you capture the baseline data of what their household labor requirements were prior to participation in the program? Important considerations also include lifecycle analysis (is there lots of labor available in the household or have the kids left to work elsewhere – so who is adopting this program) and general demographic/labor trends in the community.

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 04:30 p.m.

    Hi Dr. Morse,
    To work in a community, FONAG has to gain formal admittance from the community governance council. The community president has to sign a contract agreement. Once this is done, however, households can choose whether or not they would like to directly participate in the projects. I am doing a comparative study between households within FONAG communities that have ‘accepted’ FONAG and those that have ‘rejected’ participation in FONAG activities. The ‘rejecting’ households act as kind of a control to the FONAG ‘accepting’ participant households in terms of labor and land use. The examination of household labor requirements is an extremely important aspect of this study. A portion of the study looks specifically at availability of household resources. In addition to collecting data on land use practices and strategies, I am collecting data on variables including household demographics, labor access, land access, and capital access. With my observations so far, I really do think there is some connection to household lifecycle and adoption of these projects. I only have a few months of data collection left, and I am quite excited to see what will turn up in that time.

  • Icon for: Wayde Morse

    Wayde Morse

    Judge
    May 22, 2013 | 09:00 p.m.

    Nice project and thank you for your reply. I would however, be cautious on using the ‘rejected participation’ as a control group because there might be some preexisting labor constraint that predisposes households to participate.

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 10:31 a.m.

    Yes, I agree with you about the terminology. Control group isn’t quite appropriate and I will take more care in further descriptions. I was thinking of the ‘rejecting’ group as not changing their practices because of the incentives of FONAG. One of the major aspects of comparison is to see if there are any patterns in differences (particularly labor) between the two groups.

  • May 21, 2013 | 11:36 p.m.

    Hi Audrey,
    this is an interesting project. Do you have plans to reinterview the participants over time to gain a broader historical record? Also, how will your results be used? Can PWS projects be modified in response to results from studies such as yours?

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 04:41 p.m.

    Hi Dr. Sherman
    I think it is a great idea to re-interview participants over time, particularly because FONAG is planned to last 80 years and I initiated my research after the first 10 years of its existence. What happens to this project depends on my ability to secure funding after my doctoral dissertation as I move into the next stage in my career. I was inspired to take up this research because I kept reading academic articles promoting the success or potential success of these programs (particularly FONAG) but without representation of the perspective and experience of the recipients of PWS. As I started speaking to local stakeholders in FONAG communities, I learned that there was a large variety in engagement these programs. Many households have outright rejected participation in the program. While there are a LARGE variety reasons, it became apparent that labor demands played a big role in decisions. I also learned that many of the communities already had detailed land management plans which included attention to areas important to water resources, which probably contributed to their lands being ranked as ecologically valuable and calling the attention of FONAG. These plans were created and enforced by the members of the community without funding from the state or an NGO. I hope the results of my study will give further representation to the communities that are targets of PWS interventions, to encourage discussion and re-evaluation among academics and practitioners of PWS in terms of methods, purpose, and appropriateness as a conservation tool. Furthermore, I hope it opens a space for incorporating the ecological knowledge from the communities into PWS goals and planning process. I do believe that results from this study can and should be used to inform other PWS programs beyond FONAG, particularly since FONAG serves as the model program for at least 8 other programs in South America.
    I also intend to make my results available to the study communities. Ideally, I would like to hold a public forum in each study community to present and discuss my findings, and present a summary booklet (in Spanish) of the study findings to each of the community councils. Many people I have interviewed have complained that researchers tend to gather data and never come back to tell them what they found out. I therefore think it is my obligation to do the best I can to pass on my results to the communities.

  • Icon for: Gary Kofinas

    Gary Kofinas

    Judge
    May 22, 2013 | 01:10 a.m.

    Audrey – It appears that you’re doing a great job crossing disciplinary boundaries. Well done! Please tell me more about the participatory mapping you’re doing with locals. I’m trying to learn more about it in my own work and would like to hear more about your approach and experience, Thanks, g

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 22, 2013 | 05:35 p.m.

    Hello Dr. Kofinas, Broadly speaking, before committing to using participatory mapping in a rural location, it is really important to get to know the community. In my case, I first went to local authorities with a trusted person of the community, and introduced myself and explained my project in a village meeting. Usually, people were pretty curious and receptive, and demanded that I return some results to them, which I agree is fair. If I tried to wander into a place and start data collection without formal introductions, then I would usually be met with pure suspicion and silence. After formal introductions, approaching an individual household is a lot easier because people expect (even if they were not at the meeting, someone usually told them about you) and are a bit more willing to help out. My advice is to explain very clearly what you would like have done with the process, but be very flexible with how participants want to go about the process.

  • Icon for: Gary Kofinas

    Gary Kofinas

    Judge
    May 23, 2013 | 07:24 p.m.

    Thanks. I was thinking less about initial process and more about the mapping… Anway — good work. If you’re interested find the book “Maps and Dreams” by Brody. It’s a classic. Good luck. g

  • Icon for: Sandra Pinel

    Sandra Pinel

    Judge
    May 23, 2013 | 09:18 a.m.

    Thank you, Audrey, for your thoughtful replies. I encourage you to keep including ethnographic interviews in the process with the mapping and surveys in order to understand the variables that go into people’s decisions. Sandra

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 10:34 a.m.

    Thanks, Sandra. Yes, I believe that the ethnographic interviews are are very rich and indeed critical to understanding stakeholder decisions.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Presentation Discussion

  • May 21, 2013 | 03:28 p.m.

    Great presentation, Audrey! How are stakeholders, particularly local communities, represented in FONAG’s PWS initiatives?

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 21, 2013 | 08:27 p.m.

    Hello Pablo, and thanks for the question. Community stakeholders have no formal representation in the higher levels of FONAG’s hierarchy of governance. Because they do not financially contribute to the fund, they do not get representation when choosing the overarching targets of conservation or in defining what are desirable or undesirable land use practices within the Guayllabamba watershed.

    Local stakeholders in communities become involved after FONAG designates the property of a community as critically valuable to the water supplies for the city of Quito. Local stakeholders are then consulted by representatives of FONAG about what types of economic projects that they would like to participate in as a part of allowing FONAG to start their conservation initiatives within the communities. Those requested projects are then evaluated by the FONAG office on their ecological impact. Following this, FONAG representatives present a proposed economic project and conservation plan to the community governing council, which chooses to work with FONAG or not. Acceptance of conservation plans is a requirement to receive economic projects.

  • May 22, 2013 | 02:04 p.m.

    I like your project a lot … and even more because my husband is quiteño jejje !!! Good work Audrey !!

  • Icon for: Audrey Joslin

    Audrey Joslin

    Presenter
    May 23, 2013 | 07:22 p.m.

    Thanks Maria!

  • Icon for: Graham Fogg

    Graham Fogg

    Faculty
    May 23, 2013 | 01:56 p.m.

    Interesting work. One would think that where PWS can be accompanied by use of social networks, success might be better. I assume internet social networking mechanisms in your study area are minimal. Might be interesting to compare with a US PWS system in which social networks play more of a role.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Icon for: Audrey Joslin

AUDREY JOSLIN

Texas A&M University
Years in Grad School: 4

Assessing how payments for watershed services programs interact with rural labor and land use practices

Payments for Watershed Services (PWS) is a market-based conservation mechanism that inscribes economic value onto ecological processes associated with a watershed. Downstream urban water users compensate upstream rural landholders for practices that promote the conservation of hydrologically important ecosystems. The focus of PWS efforts is to influence land use, and land use practices are intertwined with labor. To understand the social dimensions of PWS in a community, it is therefore imperative to assess its interaction with land use and labor practices. My case study is a program called FONAG, which is based in the watershed that serves the metropolitan area of Quito, Ecuador. FONAG is well established and is the model for many other programs in South America. To assess how FONAG projects interact with land use and labor practices in the larger community, I have created an innovative approach integrating a close-ended survey with a land-use walking tour mapping exercise in which participants actively show and describe spaces of land use and the labor required for those activities. This approach yields both quantitative and qualitative data that can be applied to assess patterns from the household to a community scale. As PWS programs continue to spread throughout developing countries, my research contributes important knowledge on how PWS interacts with the lives of people.