Art as an Interface for Watershed System Resiliency

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Adrienne Mason

Publication Date:

Art has shown increasing promise as a method of communicating the science and attendant need for watershed restoration work to both practitioners and the public. The study explores whether art can efficiently convey concepts of connectivity, capacity and resiliency as they relate to restoration in small socio-ecological watershed systems in southern Bruce County, Ontario, Canada and to larger hydrological systems in general. This research explores whether an exhibit of eco-art convey the message that restoring lateral hydrological connectivity and the potential for water storage capacity on the landscape can increase watershed resiliency? I first established the scientific validity for the central message of the eco art exhibit through a case study in the South Pine River in partnership with the Healthy Lake Huron monitoring project and Rural Stormwater Management Model. Increased water storage on the landscape corresponded to increased lateral hydrological connectivity measured as reduced Total Suspended Sediment loads (P value 0.05). I then combined this field based evidence with theories of Bernoulli’s law in hydrology and the Holling’s loop from resilience literature to prototype an eco-art exhibit. This exhibit was presented eight times to varied and multidisciplinary audiences and anonymous feedback was gathered. This eco-art exhibit showed potential to broaden uptake for the methodologies and motivators for restoring connectivity and capacity to increase watershed system resiliency. Hence, the use of art as alternative medium to central textual messaging may have potential to help bypass communication barriers encountered in ecological restoration.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program