For over 6,000 years, people have called the Guana Peninsula home, largely due to the bountiful natural resources of the estuary. Now, these natural and cultural resources are at risk of climate change and development impacts, just some of the estimated 11,109 known cultural heritage sites in the southeast alone facing damage or destruction due to elevated sea level rise rates on the Atlantic coast. The GTM Research Reserve directly manages the southern portion of the Guana Peninsula, providing stewardship, visitor access, and, along with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission and the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, education and interpretive programming. These end users have identified the need to gain a better sense of how resources were used in the past and how they currently are being used by communities to ensure responsive resource management and relationship building with visitors, descendants, and other community stakeholders and for program development to expand the narrative of the Gullah/Geechee in northeast Florida.
By combining archaeological investigations and applied anthropological methods, this project aims to capture how people have expressed value for ecosystem services historically, how they continue to use them today, and how they can respond to the threats these resources are facing through 2100. Following the North American Heritage at Risk (NAHAR) research pipeline for assessing climate change risk of sites, the team will utilize predictive modeling, citizen science monitoring, shoreline mapping, and 3D technology to better understand threats to resources and document current site conditions. They will pair this data with contemporary surveys, interviews, and focus groups on community connection and use of the site to help guide decisions on archaeological investigations and suggestions for resource management. Outputs and outcomes include predictive models of cultural heritage sites most likely to be impacted by local sea level rise; technical reports and data to guide management strategies for cultural and environmental resources; a framework for investigating ecosystem services use and coastal heritage on public lands with sample visitor surveys and interview questions; and a traveling exhibit and interactive Storymap to help interpret the story of the people of the Guana Peninsula from past resource use through today’s concern with climate change impacts.
Collaborative Lead Emily Jane Murray gives a short introduction to "From Past to Present: Ecosystem Services and People of the Guana Peninsula," a collaborative research project funded in 2021 by the NERRS Science Collaborative