Analysis of adaptive capacity and governance surrounding an invasive pest, the Emerald Ash Borer, in Iowa

Landhuis, Justin
Major Professor
John Tyndall
Committee Member
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management

Theories and applications of adaptive natural resource management suggest that collaboration is essential for increasing the capacity of groups (e.g., communities, organizations) to address issues of concern, such as wildfire or the spread of invasive species. Furthermore, an understanding of relationship structure among individuals in these groups helps define opportunities for improved communication and effective response to these issues. In areas of the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., the spread of Emerald Ash Borer is of great concern in both rural and urban areas. Collaboration among stakeholders (e.g., private businesses, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, municipalities, volunteer groups) within these areas will be needed to identify effective response strategies and develop innovative solutions to mitigate the costs associated with the invasive pest. In our study, we first interviewed members of the EAB readiness team (e.g., state- and federal-agency, and university extension staff) to isolate and evaluate aspects of collaboration and coordination that are essential for effective response. We determined that while communication and collaboration issues have largely improved over time, several areas of concern were noted. These included the issues of communication, trust, and role evolution and overlap. We then focused on three separate urban areas to assess the network structure of stakeholders involved with urban trees and wood utilization, while also investigating their willingness and motivation to adapt their work to address the spread of EAB. The focus of our social network analysis includes identifying network heterogeneity, density, aspects of brokerage, and reachability. Our preliminary findings suggest a general lack of collaboration among stakeholders, with notable concern related to relations between public (city services) and private (arborists, nurseries, etc.) stakeholders ; the degree to which these two groups are preparing for EAB is markedly different. Findings from this project help to identify the full spectrum of stakeholders including those who are peripheral and unengaged; discern information breakdowns as well as isolated actors; identify opportunities to accelerate knowledge flows across functional and organizational boundaries, and; provide the framework for future strategies that address collaboration surrounding emerging natural resource issues of concern.