White buffalo Land Trust
Biodiversity Monitoring on Regeneratively Farmed Land
Knowledge or interest in Environmental Science and Ecology, Conservation Bioacoustics, Avian Population Studies, Community (Citizen) Science, Conservation Science, Communication, Education, Evolutionary Biology, Biodiversity, Automation, Agriculture
Research and Field Work
Data Collection and Analysis
Volunteer management, leadership and organized coordination
Openings: 1 of 1
Education & Outreach
Goals & Needs
White Buffalo Land Trust (WBLT) practices, promotes, and develops systems of Regenerative Agriculture (RA) for local, regional, and global impact. Through land stewardship, education, research, and product development, we focus on the restoration of healthy soils, watersheds, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and the increased nutrition and resilience of plant and animal production. Our goal is to inspire the rapid adoption of RA locally, regionally, and globally. We accomplish this by modeling these principles and practices on our own lands, facilitating programs focused on developing the next generation of land stewards, producing verifiable outcomes through field research, and by developing regeneratively-produced products that change the marketplace.
The Fellow will be responsible for developing and implementing a monitoring protocol to quantify baseline biodiversity and track changes in biodiversity at Jalama Canyon Ranch (JCR). The project's initial stage will involve a review of literature, existing methodologies, and interviews with leading researchers to identify the best metrics, methodology, and equipment for biodiversity monitoring at working lands such as JCR. The Fellow will develop and lead a community science program to assist with monitoring and attracting people to JCR. They (and WBLT team) will utilize the methodology and equipment identified in the initial project phase to quantify baseline biodiversity at the ranch.
Declining biodiversity has been linked to reduced ecosystem functioning (e.g., productivity, nutrient cycling) essential for sustaining the health of natural and human systems. We believe that by integrating natural processes in the production of food, RA can provide habitat for increased species diversity and richness, which in turn can increase resilience in agro-ecosystems. The Fellow will help develop a biodiversity monitoring plan for JCR with clear research, education and applied outcomes. This plan will help inform monitoring not only at JCR, but will also be used to demonstrate the impacts of RA to other land stewards looking to transition to RA.
Our project aligns with the GrizzlyCorps’ goal of promoting regenerative food systems to improve the health and adaptability of farms, ecosystems and communities. We are practicing, promoting, and demonstrating RA to show that it is a viable means of growing food and teaching and encouraging other land stewards to adopt these practices; this work aligns with the GrizzlyCorps’ goal of incorporating RA practices, which can build resilience through improving biodiversity, soil, and watershed health. Our organization will document and share with other Fellows best practices on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation.
Capacity Building Projects
Declining biodiversity has been linked to a decrease in ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling, productivity, and resilience to pests and disease. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services, while providing support and resilience for farmer livelihoods. The Fellow will implement a project in service of White Buffalo Land Trust’s mission of restoring our ecosystem through regenerative agriculture, specifically as it pertains to improving biodiversity. The objective of the project is to develop a biodiversity monitoring protocol with clear research, education, and applied outcomes. This will be achieved through three phases of the project:
1. Research and Development: The Fellow will research existing protocols and literature, as well as interview leading researchers and organizations to identify the most relevant methodology, metrics, tools and equipment to monitor the impacts of regenerative agriculture on biodiversity. This will include exploring collaborations with Wild Farm Alliance and/or Natural Resources Conservation Service to determine best practices for setting up biodiversity monitoring.This information will be used to develop a biodiversity monitoring methodology for JCR. The Fellow will also identify platforms and programs (iNaturalist, ArcGIS surveys etc.) to engage with the community in our biodiversity monitoring efforts.
2. Protocol Implementation: The Fellow will implement the protocol identified in phase 1 to determine baseline biodiversity at Jalama Canyon Ranch. This will be achieved through field research in conjunction with the WBLT team, as well as through community science projects developed by the Fellow.
3. Synthesis: The final phase of the project will include the creation of an internal document (“Biodiversity Monitoring Module”) that details the methodology used for biodiversity monitoring and the results from baseline monitoring. The Fellow will additionally create public facing communications documents (quarterly short blogs, and an ArcGIS Story Map) that will communicate the importance of biodiversity monitoring, the Fellow’s work (methodology development, community science program), and the baseline results.
Large-scale adoption of regenerative agriculture is a central aspect of our mission. The Fellow’s focus on quantifying the impact of regenerative agriculture on biodiversity will inform WBLT's management decisions, as well as tangibly demonstrate the ecological and economic benefits of regenerative agriculture.
Organizational & Community Highlights
The Fellow will benefit from the large network of partners and contributors White Buffalo Land Trust has cultivated. We are committed to our regional work while also being part of a global network of changemakers shifting resources towards projects, people, and processes that value and benefit the ecosystem services that we all rely upon. We have been inspired by many and work closely with a select few to curate the collaborative network that will allow us the opportunity to do our best work and support others in theirs. These are some of the organizations that we are excited to be working with: The Nature Conservancy, Kiss the Ground, Community Environmental Council, The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Terra Genesis International, UC Santa Barbara, Caltech, CSU, Chico Center for Regenerative Agriculture, Savory Network, REGRARIANS, Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, Point Blue Conservation Science, Cachuma Resources Conservation District, Open TEAM, and Regen Network.
The Fellow will have access to a variety of training opportunities WBLT offers, including but not limited to the following:
Savory Institute Hub - Holistic Management Intensive Training Course
Savory Institute Hub - Ecological Outcome Verification Course
As the Fellow enacts upon the project purpose of developing a monitoring protocol for exploring the linkage between regenerative agriculture and biodiversity, they will have the opportunity to interact with researchers, organizations, and farmers/ranchers/growers within our local and regional community, who have spearheaded biodiversity initiatives on working lands. The Fellow will lead community science projects and develop communication materials to share with others interested in tracking the biodiversity impacts of regenerative agriculture.
The Fellow will be placed within the Research and Education team at White Buffalo Land Trust, and will have the opportunity to mold a hybrid work experience with remote work developing the monitoring protocol and training materials, and in-person field research and monitoring. The Fellow will interact and learn from different arms of our team–a diverse, passionate, committed group of individuals, including the Directors of the Land Stewardship and Communications and Marketing teams, to develop a more holistic understanding of the process of developing regeneratively grown products. This includes grapes from our 5-acre vineyard, and livestock regeneratively grazed on 400-acres of grasslands. JCR is an inclusive, welcoming environment, and is an inspirational “living laboratory” for all those who observe and respect all the land has to offer.