Helbing 2013, World Economic Forum, reproduced with permission
Helbing 2013, World Economic Forum, reproduced with permission Introduction to Social-ecological Systems Topic 03 Learning outcomes Describe the main components and concepts within social-ecological systems Explain why a social-ecological systems approach is useful for more effective policies and planning
Demonstrate ability to reframe and analyse socialecological systems from multiple perspectives Defining social-ecological systems What is a social-ecological system? an integrated complex system that includes social (human) and ecological (nature) subsystems in a two-way feedback relationship (Berkes 2011)
Shift in our understanding of connections Economy Environment Society Shift in our understanding of connections
Economic systems Social systems Ecological systems Key concepts in understanding social-ecological systems Interactions and feedbacks: Challenges assumptions of linear tradeoffs in social ecological systems Multi-scale/level dynamics:
- Geographical scale - Temporal scale - Socio-political scale Diversity - Social diversity including groups, assets, goals - Multiple relationships from micro to macro levels Key concepts in understanding social-ecological systems Threshold: The point where small changes in a social or environmental driver produce large responses in the ecosystem
Tipping points: A threshold at which a relatively small change in conditions leads to a strong change in the state of a system (Brook et al. 2013) Resilience: Capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganise while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function and structure (Scheffer 2009) Persistence Adaptability Transformability Why do we need to think
in terms of SES? Case study of the Southern Cape, South Africa (van Wilgen et al. 2008) Reprinted from Journal of Environmental Management, Vol.89, Issue 4, B.W. van Wilgen, B. Reyers, D.C. Le Maitre, D.M. Richardson, L. Schonegevel, 'A biome-scale assessment of the impact of invasive alien plants on ecosystem services in South Africa', pp. 336-349. (c) 2008, with permission from Elsevier. Reprinted from Journal of Environmental Management, Vol.89, Issue 4, B.W. van Wilgen, B. Reyers, D.C. Le Maitre, D.M. Richardson, L. Schonegevel, 'A biome-scale assessment of the impact of invasive alien plants on ecosystem services in South Africa', pp. 336-349. (c) 2008, with permission from Elsevier.
Collins et al 2011; Frontiers in Ecology Reprinted from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol.9, Issue 6, Scott L. Collins, Stephen R. Carpenter, Scott M. Swinton, Daniel E. Orenstein, Daniel L. Childers, Ted L. Gragson, Nancy B. Grimm, J. Morgan Grove, Sharon L. Harlan, Jason P. Kaye, Alan K. Knapp, Gary P. Kofinas, John J. Magnuson, William H. McDowell, John M. Melack, Laura A. Ogden, G. Philip Robertson, Melinda D. Smith, Ali C. Whitmer, 'An integrated conceptual framework for long-term social-ecological research', pp.351-357. (c) 2010. Reprinted with permission from Wiley. Moving from local to global SES
Decreased Resilience = Increased Risk Millennium Ecosystem Assessment SES at the global scale Planetary boundaries: a safe operating space for humanity (Rockstrom et al. 2009, updated by
Steffen et al. 2015) Sees earth as a single system with 9 key and interacting processes These must stay within safe limits Reprinted from Global Environmental Change, Vol.28, John A. Dearing, Rong Wang, Ke Zhang, James G. Dyke, Helmut Haberl, Md. Sarwar Hossain, Peter G. Langdon, Timothy M. Lenton, Kate Raworth, Sally Brown, Jacob Carstensen, Megan J. Cole, Sarah E. Cornell, Terence P. Dawson, C. Patrick Doncaster, Felix Eigenbrod, Martina Florke, Elizabeth Jeffers, Anson W. Mackay, Bjorn Nykvist, Guy M. Poppy, 'Safe and just operating spaces for regional social-ecological systems', pp.227-238. (c) 2014. Reprinted under Creative Commons license CC-BY 3.0
SES at the global scale the doughnut = safe and just space for humanity (Raworth 2012) We cannot overshoot the planets ecological ceiling But we must bring all people above a social foundation https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/
Reprinted from Global Environmental Change, Vol.28, John A. Dearing, Rong Wang, Ke Zhang, James G. Dyke, Helmut Haberl, Md. Sarwar Hossain, Peter G. Langdon, Timothy M. Lenton, Kate Raworth, Sally Brown, Jacob Carstensen, Megan J. Cole, Sarah E. Cornell, Terence P. Dawson, C. Patrick Doncaster, Felix Eigenbrod, Martina Florke, Elizabeth Jeffers, Anson W. Mackay, Bjorn Nykvist, Guy M. Poppy, 'Safe and just operating spaces for regional social-ecological systems', pp.227-238. (c) 2014. Reprinted under Creative Commons license CC-BY 3.0 Other frameworks for analysing social-ecological systems
Why use a framework? A framework is...useful in providing a common set of potentially relevant variables and their subcomponents to use in the design of data collection instruments, the conduct of field work, and the analysis of findings (Ostrom 2009) Frameworks can help to define a common vocabulary for different people to discuss the same scenario. Class exercise: What criteria would you use to choose an appropriate framework in a specific situation?
The DPSIR Framework Kristensen 2004 Kristensen, P. (2004) 'The DPSIR Framework', https://wwz.ifremer.fr/dce/content/download/69291/913220/.../DPSIR.pdf The DPSIR Framework Strengths Weaknesses
Simple to understand and use Too simple & static to capture complex social-ecological system dynamics & trends (i.e. oversimplifies the problems) Can be applied to a wide range of environmental issues, and in a standard way
Understood and used by large number of organisations Can be used as a tool to organise & communicate complex (social-ecological) information to policy makers & other stakeholders Discrepancies in understanding & applying DPSIR information categories (i.e. differing definitions &
interpretations of Drivers, Pressures, Responses, etc.) Produces potentially biased analysis & results (based on subjectivity of the individual(s) applying the framework see Svarstad et al. 2008) The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework DFID 1999: SLA Guidance Sheet 1, p.1
SLF: Strengths and weaknesses Strengths Genuinely transdisciplinary as produced, disseminated and applied in the borderland between research, policy, and practice. (Knutsson 2006) Responds to peoples own multi-dimensional view of livelihoods Very widely used in development initiatives Weaknesses (Scoones 2009) Lack of engagement with economic globalisation processes Lack of attention to power and politics Lack of rigorous attempts to deal with long-term change in environmental
conditions Failure to grapple with debates about long-term shifts in rural economies and questions of agrarian change Social-Ecological Systems Framework (McGinnis and Ostrom 2014) McGinnis and Ostrom 2014 Reprinted from Ecology and Society, Vol.19, No.2, Michael D. McGinnis and Elinor Ostrom, 'Social-ecological system framework: initial changes and continuing challenges', (c) 2014.
Reprinted under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC 4.0. Strengths and weaknesses of Ostroms SES framework Strengths Structures the analysis of complex processes Linkages (to related ecosystems or external drivers) and dynamics are inbuilt Gives equal weight to social and ecological components of the system Requires interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration leading to better understanding and decision-making Weaknesses
Works well for the analysis of territorial and well defined case studies, but less so for broader (national) scales or for spatially scattered actions and initiatives References Key readings
McGinnis, M.D. and Ostrom, E. (2014) Social-ecological system framework: Initial changes and continuing challenges. Ecology and Society 19(2): 30. Raworth, K. (2012) A safe and just space for humanity: can we live within the doughnut? Oxfam Policy and Practice: Climate Change and Resilience 8: 1-26. Rockstrm, J. et al. (2009) Planetary boundaries: Exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14(2): 32. Scoones, I. (2009) Livelihoods perspectives and rural development. The Journal of Peasant Studies 36:171-196. van Wilgen, B.W. et al. (2008). A biome-scale assessment of the impact of invasive alien plants on ecosystem services in South Africa. Journal of Environmental Management 89(4): 336-349.
Other readings Berkes, F. (2011) Restoring unity: the concept of social-ecological systems. World Fisheries: A Social- Ecological Analysis (eds R.E. Ommer, R.I. Perry, K. Cochrane & P. Cury), pp. 9-28. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.
Brook, B.W. et al. (2013) Does the terrestrial biosphere have planetary tipping points? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28: 396-401. Knutsson, P. (2006) The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach: A framework for knowledge integration assessment. Human Ecology Review 13(1): 90-99. Ostrom, E. et al. (2009) A general framework for analysing sustainability of social-ecological systems. Science 325: 419-422. Scheffer, M. et al. (2009) Early-warning signals for critical transitions. Nature 461: 53-59. Steffen, W. et al. (2015) Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 347(6223): 1259855. Svarstad, H. et al. (2008) Discursive biases of the environmental research framework DPSIR. Land Use Policy 25: 116-125.
Guided reading Please read: Galafassi, D. et al. (2017) Learning about social-ecological trade-offs. Ecology and Society 22(1): 2. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08920-220102 Questions for discussion: Think of a social-ecological system with which you are familiar. Drawing on the methods outlined in the paper, design a process to engage all stakeholders to:
1. Identify possible trade-offs between different ecosystem services, between wellbeing of different groups of people and/or between different values; and 2. Negotiate options to mitigate these trade-offs.
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