Announcing Five New SNAPP Working Groups

Teams Will Seek Solutions on Water, Poverty, Sanitation, Livestock Disease, Drought

By Chip Weiskotten, Wildlife Conservation Society

The Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) announced the launch of five new multi-disciplinary teams aimed at tackling global issues including water quantity, poverty, sanitation, livestock disease, and drought.

SNAPP Director Jensen Montambault said, “SNAPP is determined to help find innovative solutions for the world’s biggest conservation and development challenges. By rigorously selecting multidisciplinary teams willing to dig deep into the big questions affecting both people and nature, and work to put the answers into practice, we can use science to figure out how to make the world work better. From human sanitation to wildlife health, Mongolia to the central Appalachian coalfields, these new SNAPP working groups can make an impact.”

SNAPP is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). It is a scientific collaboration that is developing solutions to some of the world’s most significant conservation challenges that impact both people and nature.

The new multi-disciplinary teams include:

Water Flow Impact

While source water protection programs are often implemented in response to hydrological shifts caused by climate change and land degradation, there is little empirical evidence about how these activities affect the quantity of water downstream. This project will investigate to what extent, and under what circumstances, source water protection activities can produce meaningful baseflow, groundwater recharge, and flood impacts.

The project is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF7100 to The Nature Conservancy to support the work of SNAPP.

Steppe Health

Infectious diseases at the livestock/wildlife interface threaten the health and well-being of wildlife, livestock, and human livelihoods. Using data from the recent Mongolian outbreak of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) that killed tens of thousands of livestock and more than half of the endangered saiga antelope population, the project will look at the potential for participatory epidemiology, or bottom-up surveillance by the pastoralists themselves, as the most effective way to prevent future outbreaks.

Water Sanitation and Nature

As more than half the world’s population lacks improved or adequate sanitation, the unsafe management of fecal waste and wastewater continues to present a major risk to public health and the environment. This working group aims to examine how wastewater utilities and their regulators can implement nature-based sanitation solutions into wastewater treatment facilities while also providing benefits to nature and biodiversity.

This team is made possible in part by the generous support and engagement of the Bridge Collaborative, uniting experts in health, development and the environment to create the evidence and opportunity to solve big problems for people and the world we share.

Appalachian Coalfields

Despite improvements over the last 50 years, the Central Appalachian Coalfields region of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, remain among the most impoverished areas in the United States. Once strongly focused on mining, forestry, agriculture and heavy/chemical industry, the region is well-positioned to embrace a vibrant, diverse economy including manufacturing, service industries, renewable energy development, tourism, and a revived forest products industry. This project will investigate how regional economic development in the Central Appalachian Coalfields can jointly benefit human well-being and environmental sustainability.

This project is funded in part by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

Ecological Drought

While the direct effects of drought are well understood, the toll taken on ecosystems is rarely quantified. Climate change and rapidly expanding human populations put pressure on ecologically available water and alter ecosystems in ways that can increase vulnerability to drought, with real consequences for people through the loss of ecosystem services. This project builds on earlier SNAPP work to highlight trade-offs between human and ecosystem water needs and promote the inclusion of ecosystem responses to drought-planning strategies.

SNAPP has now launched 33 working group projects since its inception in 2013, which to date have engaged more than 640 scientists and conservationists from over 300 institutions and 40 countries. These teams have produced 42 peer reviewed scientific publications, 13 online tools, and have helped raise more than $9 million to follow-up on the outcome of SNAPP groups and to take those outcomes into practice.

This past year has seen SNAPP working groups deliver products including an open-access machine learning tool that allows conservation practitioners and policymakers to quickly mine scientific research and data for key insights to inform their decision making; launched a new initiative to guide the sustainable development of the fastest growing food sector on the planet (aquaculture); and informed Rwanda’s vision for protecting the country’s national parks and incorporating their economic and natural value into future planning.

Learn about the rest of our multi-disciplinary SNAPP teams.

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Posted on March 2, 2018