Concerns about the social consequences of conservation have spurred increased attention the monitoring and evaluation of the social impacts of conservation projects. This has resulted in a growing body of research that demonstrates how conservation can produce both positive and negative social, economic, cultural, health, and governance consequences for local communities. Yet, the results of social monitoring efforts are seldom applied to adaptively manage conservation projects. Greater attention is needed to incorporating the results of social impact assessments in long‐term conservation management to minimize negative social consequences and maximize social benefits. We bring together insights from social impact assessment, adaptive management, social learning, knowledge coproduction, cross‐scale governance, and environmental planning to propose a definition and framework for adaptive social impact management (ASIM). We define ASIM as the cyclical process of monitoring and adaptively managing social impacts over the life‐span of an initiative through the 4 stages of profiling, learning, planning, and implementing. We outline 14 steps associated with the 4 stages of the ASIM cycle and provide guidance and potential methods for social‐indicator development, predictive assessments of social impacts, monitoring and evaluation, communication of results, and identification and prioritization of management responses. Successful ASIM will be aided by engaging with best practices – including local engagement and collaboration in the process, transparent communication of results to stakeholders, collective deliberation on and choice of interventions, documentation of shared learning at the site level, and the scaling up of insights to inform higher‐level conservation policies‐to increase accountability, trust, and perceived legitimacy among stakeholders. The ASIM process is broadly applicable to conservation, environmental management, and development initiatives at various scales and in different contexts.
Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing
Conservation actions most often occur in peopled seascapes and landscapes. As a result, conservation decisions cannot rely solely on evidence from the natural sciences, but must also be guided by the social sciences, the arts and the humanities. However, we are concerned that too much of the current attention is on research that serves an instrumental purpose, by which we mean that the social sciences are used to justify and promote status quo conservation practices. The reasons for engaging the social sciences, as well as the arts and the humanities, go well beyond making conservation more effective. In this editorial, we briefly reflect on how expanding the types of social science research and the contributions of the arts and the humanities can help to achieve the transformative potential of conservation.
An integrated understanding of both social and ecological aspects of environmental issues is essential to address pressing sustainability challenges. An integrated social-ecological systems perspective is purported to provide a better understanding of the complex relationships between humans and nature. Despite a threefold increase in the amount of social-ecological research published between 2010 and 2015, it is unclear whether these approaches have been truly integrative. We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the conceptual, methodological, disciplinary, and functional aspects of social-ecological integration. In general, we found that overall integration is still lacking in social-ecological research. Some social variables deemed important for addressing sustainability challenges are underrepresented in social-ecological studies, e.g., culture, politics, and power. Disciplines such as ecology, urban studies, and geography are better integrated than others, e.g., sociology, biology, and public administration. In addition to ecology and urban studies, biodiversity conservation plays a key brokerage role in integrating other disciplines into social-ecological research. Studies founded on systems theory have the highest rates of integration. Highly integrative studies combine different types of tools, involve stakeholders at appropriate stages, and tend to deliver practical recommendations. Better social-ecological integration must underpin sustainability science. To achieve this potential, future social-ecological research will require greater attention to the following: the interdisciplinary composition of project teams, strategic stakeholder involvement, application of multiple tools, incorporation of both social and ecological variables, consideration of bidirectional relationships between variables, and identification of implications and articulation of clear policy recommendations.
Multiple stresses adversely affect fish catch and livelihoods of marine fishermen. Perceptions regarding these stresses in the fishing community can vary, which can consequently determine adaptation responses. However, there are limited attempts to understand these perceptions and the factors which might be influencing them. This study, first, identifies the specific stresses impacting livelihoods of the fishing community in Maharashtra (India) through the literature and Focus Group Discussions. Thereafter, a household survey is used to examine the factors influencing the perceptions of these stresses. Further, a composite stress perception index, comprising of two factors representing climatic and non-climatic or general stresses, is built. The index suggests that a majority of the community perceive greater risks from the non-climatic stresses compared to changes in temperature and rain. It is found that the perception of stresses varies significantly with the regional background. However, the relation of various other socio-economic factors is not uniform with the perceptions of different stresses. This study is one of the first to comparatively analyze climatic and non-climatic stresses in fishing, and suggests the need for effective implementation of current policy measures to reduce the stresses along with awareness generation regarding impact of climate change in the community.
There are growing calls for the articulation and consideration of different value systems and emotions in shaping conservation and natural resource management decisions and participatory resource governance. This requires recognition of the socio-cultural relations attached to landscape and seascape in marine conservation policy. Taking into account the relationship between the socio-natural environment and socio-political institutions and processes complicates conservation. Making human values and assumptions explicit within the conservation discourse reveals the inadequacy of conservation that is focused on a biodiversity that is framed only as other-than-human nature. This paper considers how the perceived separation between nature and culture underpinning conservation policy and practice exacerbated a conflict between members of a small Scottish island community and the Scottish Government around the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) off the coast of the island. A rich maritime heritage and a distinctive way of knowing the sea suggested the presence of embedded values that appeared to be colliding with values driving the MPA designation process. Social, historical and cultural forces have shaped the perceptions of landscape and seascape of many of the islanders and can help to explain the local resistance to the MPA. Visual participatory methods were used to explore local understandings of the meaning of conservation. The case-study offers insights into different ways in which marine spaces are conceptualised and how this relates to marine resource governance. It contributes to a more complete understanding of human relations with the marine environment in the context of a marine conservation conflict.
Resource users’ perceptions are crucial for successful marine governance because they affect community support, participation and legitimacy. Efforts have been made to understand how fishers’ attitudes, understandings and interpretations of the environment and its governance emerge in small-scale fisheries. However, many quantitative studies have focussed on how individual-level attributes like socio-demographics are associated with perceptions, ignoring a fundamental scale at which humans arrive at their views about the world – the social group. In multi-gear fisheries, fishers typically cluster in two overlapping types of group: occupational groups (defined by fishing gear) and village communities. Taking into account also individual-level variables, which group type is more associated with particular environmental and governance perceptions, e.g. about change in fish stocks, collective action or appropriate management actions? Through questionnaires in combination with multivariate and multi-model inference, this study reveals that, among fishers in two villages in Zanzibar (n = 172), village is more associated with perceptions than occupational group or any other factor. Further, individual attributes like education and age influence perceptions. The main finding implies that the role of social-cultural processes might have been underestimated in quantitative research on research users’ perceptions. This has consequences for policy and research and shows that both can be informed by statistical analyses that disentangles effects of different levels of group belonging.
Cultural edges, as sites of encounter and interaction between two or more cultural groups, tend to result in increased access to knowledge, skills, and material goods. First proposed more than a decade ago as an elaboration of the ecological edge concept, we suggest that cultural edges merit closer attention, particularly in relation to the complex histories and diverse processes of interaction indigenous communities have had with outsiders, including settlers and other indigenous groups. Our analysis is focused on the coastal Cree Nation of Wemindji, Eeyou Istchee, northern Québec (Canada) where multiple ecological and cultural edges have provided increased access to harvesting resources as well as expanded opportunities for social interaction and partnerships, knowledge and technology transfer, and economic diversification. As the locus within indigenous social-ecological systems where strategies for resistance and adaptation to disturbance and change are applied, including active enhancement of edge benefits, the concept of edges contributes to our understanding of the social, cultural, and ecological processes that shape indigenous territories and contribute to enhanced social-ecological resilience.
An effective and efficient stewardship of natural resources requires consistency across all decision-informing approaches and components involved, i.e., managerial, governmental, political, and legal. To achieve this consistency, these elements must be aligned under an overarching management goal that is consistent with current and well-accepted knowledge. In this article, we investigate the adoption by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management of an environmental resilience-centered system that manages for resilience of marine ecological resources and its associated social elements. Although the framework is generally tailored for this Bureau, it could also be adapted to other federal or non-federal organizations. This paper presents a dynamic framework that regards change as an inherent element of the socio-ecological system in which management structures, e.g., federal agencies, are embedded. The overall functioning of the management framework being considered seeks to mimic and anticipate environmental change in line with well-accepted elements of resilience-thinking. We also investigate the goal of using management for resilience as a platform to enhance socio-ecological sustainability by setting specific performance metrics embedded in pre-defined and desired social and/or ecological scenarios. Dynamic management frameworks that couple social and ecological systems as described in this paper can facilitate the efficient and effective utilization of resources, reduce uncertainty for decision and policy makers, and lead to more defensible decisions on resources.
The socio-economic condition of the traditional fishermen in Blimbingsari Village is considered to be less than the optimum. This problem has happened due to the diminishing revenue from fishing activities. The opportunity to work in the oﬀ-fishing sectors available are also limited, thus this creates a problem for the fishermen when it comes to earning an additional income. The objective of this article is to explore the alternative economic resources’ potential, with the aim of increasing the fishermen's revenue, to overcome poverty, and to improve their welfare. This study used a qualitative method to analyse the data. The results of the study reveal that the diminishing revenue of the fishermen is caused by the scarcity of the fishery resources, the unstable weather conditions that aﬀect the ability to sail, and the limited seafaring coverage. On the other hand, the marine eco-tourism sector may have the opportunity to assist in the improvement of the business diversification of fishing. Although the marine eco-tourism sector is running at a limited capacity, this sector is able to accommodate the development of tourism services. The fishermen's family members are able to be involved in their business activities. For instance, by becoming a helper in the fish stall business or even having the chance to establish their own business. The need for a fish supply for the fish stall business can be obtained from the local fishermen. Therefore, a mutual synergy between the eco-tourism and fishing sectors can be created by involving village-owned business, particularly when it comes to organising the local economic potential. This synergy can provide the chance to develop economic opportunities at a wider range. The rearrangement of the coastal area is also necessary to provide an opportunity for the local people to participate in coastal-based economic activities.
Fishery management is increasingly moving towards ecosystem-based approaches that integrate ecological and human dimensions of fisheries. Studies on the human dimensions (HD) of fisheries have increased in recent years. A gap, however, remains between the nature of available information and the information needed by fishery managers. Our paper addresses this gap for the Great Lakes fisheries. We explicitly explored information needs of fishery managers to better reconcile the supply and demand of HD information. Our study finds that managers need HD information in particular to demonstrate the achievements of management goals and to address management issues. In addition, understanding the purpose and timing of information is important in order to provide timely and relevant information as fishery managers identify distinct information needs for planning, decision-making, and evaluation of management. Fishery managers in our study were particularly interested in direct and indirect economic values of the fisheries as well as values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of users. Interviewed managers were not only interested in the status quo of these factors but also wanted to understand what influences and shapes them. In addition, fishery managers would like to understand the contribution of fisheries to ecosystem services in the basin including cultural values. Our interviews did not detect interest in information on long-term HD trends or the explicit need for interdisciplinary studies. Such information, however, would be critical to understand and predict changes in the human dimensions of the fisheries and to develop management strategies to cope with these changes.