By Judith Krauss, University of Sheffield
In the fifth episode of the convivial conservation podcast, we catch up with Alex McInturff, now working for USGS and the University of Washington, and Pete Alagona, faculty member from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the California team of the CONVIVA – convivial conservation research project funded by NORFACE/Belmont Forum (recorded in June 2022).
Alex and Pete’s work centres on the possibility of reintroducing brown bears, known as grizzly bears in California, to the state whose flag bears a grizzly as an emblem. Pete explains their project to me like I am eight years old (03:00). Alex and Pete then reflect on the origins and background of their project (04:45), and consider how the only reintroduction case in the CONVIVA project fits in with the other three cases – lions in Tanzania, wolves in Finland and jaguars in Brazil, where the animals very much currently share the space with humans (10:00). While this makes the project unique, it also offers an opportunity for conceptual and methodological innovations, as well as shaping a future of greater conviviality. We consider the hurdles which Covid posed for the project, but also the activities both in terms of research and knowledge exchange that were possible despite the pandemic (15:30).
Alex and Pete discuss their recent paper in Elementa journal co-authored by Clare Cannon and David Pellow, bringing together environmental justice with large carnivore reintroductions to develop a novel framework for reflecting on who benefits and who does not, whose knowledges count and why when it comes to reintroducing e.g. brown bears (26:15). We discuss their plans for further research and knowledge exchange projects (34:55) before we end on hope, including the project’s activities around knowledge exchange which are aimed at educating coming generations on the importance of living well with nature (40:30).