Climate Risk & Resilience Lens: Landscape as Collaboration

The various components of a landscape interact with each other, and when this interaction is intentional, collaboration can ensue. A community of organisms, whether humans, animals, plants, etc, can interact with each other, as well as work together to harvest, utilize, or adapt to resources and the physical world. Humans within a group, such as a family, village, or workplace, combine their skills and knowledge to maximize resources. Artifacts within a landscape can be examined on the basis of what kind of cooperation occurred to build a structure, harvest a natural resource, or adapt to a natural disaster.

A landscape can be judged on how successful collaboration is between its different elements. There can be opportunities to improve cooperative action. This lens will support the mosaic research in Nepal by highlighting how people interact with each other and their surrounding environment, which can be a component of forging resilience in a community. An example of collaboration in a rural community in Nepal is how villagers communicate a natural disaster or hazard to others in order to warn potentially vulnerable residents or react to a dangerous situation. Distance between households could be examined, as well as prevalence of communication technology, to ascertain the time it takes for villagers to relay information and form collaborative strategies to adapt. The relationship between the physical geography of the landscape and how and where people build their homes can illustrate how well villagers collaborate with the landscape to form the safest environment for human settlement. Crops can be thought of in terms of how much time and human labor is needed to cultivate them, and whether or not planting that particular species is conducive to the ecological systems of the area. Some crops may take up an unsustainable amount of water from natural sources, unless villagers collaborate to design and build irrigation systems that work productively within the environment.

Using this lens will illuminate the various interactions in a landscape and help evaluate their effectiveness. Opportunities for increased collaboration might arise when the viewer is purposefully examining how living and nonliving elements of a system are working together. Climate risks can be handled with greater efficiency and speed when a community is already collaborating and is resilient to changes in their environment. The levels and success of already existing collaborative efforts can be a determining factor in reacting to future hazards.

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