Contemporary Environmental Issues [CRN 27406]

Discipline: Natural Resources
Instructor: Binkley
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 16:40
End: 18:00
Field Work: Day 5 | February 14, 2017 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: One (1) introductory biology course or similar Download Syllabus

The influence of human activities and societies are reshaping the ecological systems of the globe.  Some changes are intentional, including conversion of wildland ecosystems into agricultural ecosystems to feed billions of people.  Others are unintended consequences of human activities, including pollution, climate change, and species extinctions.  This course develops a framework for understanding and evaluating current environmental issues, including resource extraction, food production, population, impacts of technological development, the influence of culture on environmental decision making, the role of evidence and validation in projecting environmental impacts.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 5
Date: February 14, 2017

Mangrove forests populate the transition zone between terrestrial and marine ecosystems throughout much of the Tropics. The co-development of terrestrial and marine systems has complex geology, hydrology, and ecology, with major implications for conservation. The mangrove forests of the world are rapidly being removed, as humans have other ideas in mind for coastal areas. Vietnam has lost about half of its mangrove forests in the past 3 decades. We will visit a project in Ngoc Hien, Ca Mau Province, that is working to reverse the loss and degradation of mangrove ecosystems. The project is fostered by the SNV, an international aid agency from the Netherlands with the goal of “smart development.” The work fosters restoration by connecting the mangrove forests to market opportunities for local people by improving shrimp harvests, restoring damaged shrimp ponds, aiming to monetize carbon storage as part of shrimp production, and improving policies.

Learning objectives:
1. Relate physical and biological aspects of the terrestrial/marine environment, and how mangrove forests are key ecosystems.
2. See and understand the issues that converge at the marine boundaries and why mangrove forests have been lost
3. Learn how a key to conservation is melding the needs of local people to conservation opportunities.