What we do
We engage with local institutions for long term co-learning experiences in landscapes. We use the concept of sentinel landscapes, which has been used in different ways by groups aiming to understand or reconcile conservation and development tradeoffs (i.e. CIFOR, ICRAF, USDA, WWF, IUCN, FAO, etc). We think it is imperative that our efforts strengthen pre-existing institutional capacities in ways that ensure inclusivity. That means our partners are determined by common-concern entry points and by a rigorous analysis of the pre-existing institutional arrangements.
Tanah Air Beta does not manage any landscapes. Our techniques are used to establish ties between the range of actors that affect landscapes. We strive to make the relationships in ways that better coordinate effort and commitment for working at a landscape level to achieve more equitable, inclusive development, and to conserve biodiversity. We use methods that suit the local context – which means using inductive methods before any deductive approaches are used.
TAB members come from diverse disciplinary, cultural, and career backgrounds, but work as a team using transdisciplinary, sustainability science. That means we partner with local societal institutions to conceive of and focus on solutions to shared problems. This requires heavy up-front, collaborative problem-framing and some methods for our work include: appreciative enquiry, historical trends analysis, actor network analysis, visualization methods, participatory rural appraisal techniques, systems analysis and modeling, and participatory theory of change techniques.
Our mission is to bring innovative, relevant scientific techniques to enable local populations, NGOs, local government and the private sector to achieve better outcomes at the scale of landscapes and seascapes. Therefore, we work in landscapes and seascapes that are in transition – where the pressures of development could bring benefits to local people but could also lead to environmental destruction and the capture of economic benefits by outside corporations. We aim to apply science in order to mediate these transitions and achieve better outcomes for people and nature. Tanah Air Beta plans to expand its activities and to work with partners in several landscapes in Indonesia to apply integrative techniques to help people achieve vibrant and biodiverse rural landscapes.
Where we do it
We mainly work in the tropics and have thus far established partnerships in parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. We welcome future partnerships elsewhere and are seeking them out in Canada to build communities of commitment that install learning mechanisms for sustainability. These communities would serve to benefit if they closed the dialogue gaps between people working on the ground in both North American landscapes and in tropical landscapes, and people advancing sustainability agendas at global fora.
Most of our current work is in Indonesia. It is a place where we have numerous connections, where Tanah Air Beta is headquartered, and where Intu, our director is from. A two minute video exploring what landscapes look like in Indonesia is found here.
Seeking collaborations in:
Much of our team now works out of the University of British Columbia, where there is lots of capacity to deploy towards landscape learning partnerships. Exchanging information and opening up dialogue with people engaged in action research with First Nations groups could inform how institutional arrangements might be steered towards more wins and fewer losses for inclusive, sustainable development across the range of our sentinel landscapes.
Tropical north Australia faces many of the same problems faced by other tropical countries. Tanah Air Beta was conceived of in North Queensland as a way to connect Australian colleagues with their tropical neighbors. There is much to learn from and influence in Australia’s landscapes – issues include the inclusive development for marginalized Aboriginal groups, conservation and development trade-offs, biophysical development constraints, distribution of state finances, and the governance of large-scale investments.