Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing

Evaluating indicators of human well-being for ecosystem-based management

Breslow SJo, Allen M, Holstein D, Sojka B, Barnea R, Basurto X, Carothers C, Charnley S, Coulthard S, Dolšak N, et al. Evaluating indicators of human well-being for ecosystem-based management. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability [Internet]. 2017 :1 - 18. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20964129.2017.1411767
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Introduction: Interrelated social and ecological challenges demand an understanding of how environmental change and management decisions affect human well-being. This paper outlines a framework for measuring human well-being for ecosystem-based management (EBM). We present a prototype that can be adapted and developed for various scales and contexts. Scientists and managers use indicators to assess status and trends in integrated ecosystem assessments (IEAs). To improve the social science rigor and success of EBM, we developed a systematic and transparent approach for evaluating indicators of human well-being for an IEA.

Methods: Our process is based on a comprehensive conceptualization of human well-being, a scalable analysis of management priorities, and a set of indicator screening criteria tailored to the needs of EBM. We tested our approach by evaluating more than 2000 existing social indicators related to ocean and coastal management of the US West Coast. We focused on two foundational attributes of human well-being: resource access and self-determination.

Outcomes and Discussion: Our results suggest that existing indicators and data are limited in their ability to reflect linkages between environmental change and human well-being, and extremely limited in their ability to assess social equity and justice. We reveal a critical need for new social indicators tailored to answer environmental questions and new data that are disaggregated by social variables to measure equity. In both, we stress the importance of collaborating with the people whose well-being is to be assessed.

Conclusion: Our framework is designed to encourage governments and communities to carefully assess the complex tradeoffs inherent in environmental decision-making.

The long-term impact of maritime piracy on seafarers’ behavioral health and work decisions

D. Seyle C, Fernandez KG, Dimitrevich A, Bahri C. The long-term impact of maritime piracy on seafarers’ behavioral health and work decisions. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2018 ;87:23 - 28. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0308597X17303925
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

More than 6000 seafarers have been held hostage by pirates in the last ten years. There is a small but developing body of research showing that these seafarers may face lasting challenges in recovery. However, current studies on this question have been limited by a lack of comparison groups, a lack of statistical power, and other methodological challenges. This study contributes to this body of research through a survey of 101 former hostages and 363 seafarers not known to be exposed to piracy from India, the Philippines, and Ukraine. Using clinically validated scales for tracking lasting impact, this research finds that 25.77% of former hostages show symptoms consistent with PTSD, and that hostage experiences and other maritime traumas can have impacts on seafarer wellbeing and decisions about their career through the impact these traumas have on post-traumatic stress symptoms.

How coral reef conservation and marine protected areas impact human well-being: A case study of a marine protected area and fishing communities in Central Vietnam

Ngoc QThi Khanh. How coral reef conservation and marine protected areas impact human well-being: A case study of a marine protected area and fishing communities in Central Vietnam. Laguna, Philippines: Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia; 2017. Available from: http://www.eepsea.org/pub/rr/2017-RR5Ngoc_OnlineEdition.pdf
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

This study evaluates the impacts of coral reef conservation and marine protected areas (MPAs) on the well-being of fishing communities in Central Vietnam. The Cu Lao Cham MPA is chosen as the case study. Coral reef health and four aspects of socioeconomic conditions (i.e., catch rate [also related to food security], access to the resource, employment, and income) are investigated. Data on the four different aspects were gathered from different sources. The results show that there is good evidence for how coral reef conservation can transfer the flow of benefits from the ecosystem to the local people. However, trade-offs also occur as a result of the development of tourism, including the degradation of fish resources and the environment. The managers of the MPA and the community should take into account trade-offs in resource management and should focus on appropriate MPA planning and fisheries management outside the MPA to achieve better outcomes for the local community from coral reef conservation

Poorly-designed goals and objectives in resource management plans: Assessing their impact for an Ecosystem-Based Approach to Marine Spatial Planning

Domínguez-Tejo E, Metternicht G. Poorly-designed goals and objectives in resource management plans: Assessing their impact for an Ecosystem-Based Approach to Marine Spatial Planning. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2018 ;88:122 - 131. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X17302361
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Planning frameworks such as Ecosystem-Based Marine Spatial Planning are based on socio-ecological systems and require effective design of management goals and objectives, a task often overlooked in conservation and resource planning. This paper discusses research undertaken in a coastal council of Australia, to assess the significance of well-defined goals and objectives as drivers of management plans. SMART criteria and Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation approaches were integrated into a framework to examine management scope of existing plans; assess the quality of stated goals and objectives; analyse the use of natural and socio-economic targets; and provide recommendations for the development of future plans. Findings provided no indication of organizational learning through revision of previous plans, revealing an ongoing planning cycle with ad-hoc reviews frequently driven by policy changes. Main weaknesses identified included linguistics ambiguity; unclear planning hierarchy; lack of clear time-frames; and adoption of highly ambitious plans. The absence of measurable and time-bounded goals and objectives was noted. Additionally, poor definition of targets resulted in goals not meeting the impact-oriented criteria, and objectives were not outcome-oriented. Recommendations drawn in support of mainstreaming the Ecosystem Based Approach in future coastal and marine plans include: explicit definition of societal values; developing complementary cross-realm management goals and objectives; increasing commitment to produce ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes progressively within each planning period; a greater use of pro-active management measures; and providing an economic context to the plans, fostering alignment of financial resources and future investments with the vision developed by the council.

Assessment and Promotion of the Great Barrier Reef's Human Dimensions Through Collaboration

Gooch M, Curnock M, Dale A, Gibson J, Hill R, Marshall N, Molloy F, Vella K. Assessment and Promotion of the Great Barrier Reef's Human Dimensions Through Collaboration. Coastal Management [Internet]. 2017 ;45(6):519 - 537. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08920753.2017.1373455?journalCode=ucmg20
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $50.00
Type: Journal Article

Increasingly, natural resource managers see the marine protected areas that they are responsible for as linked social-ecological systems. This requires an equal focus on managing for both natural and human dimensions of the protected estate. Consequently, identification of indicators that represent the human dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) such as the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is critical if these values are to be properly considered as part of standard management practice. Assessment and monitoring of the human dimensions of LSMPAs requires a replicable, collaborative process, rolled out at local scales but comparable across vast, socially and geographically diverse areas. This paper explores the application of a process for the development, assessment, and monitoring of the GBR's human dimensions. The process includes (a) development of a conceptual framework that links indicator sets to the desired state of the GBR's human dimensions; and (b) a collaborative approach including ten practical steps to implement assessment, monitoring, and benchmarking of the human dimensions of an LSMPA. We conclude with examination of challenges and opportunities for implementing this process in the GBR context, specifically with respect to the targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

Coastal livelihood transitions under globalization with implications for trans-ecosystem interactions

Kramer DB, Stevens K, Williams NE, Sistla SA, Roddy AB, Urquhart GR. Coastal livelihood transitions under globalization with implications for trans-ecosystem interactions Hewitt J. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2017 ;12(10):e0186683. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186683
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Anthropogenic threats to natural systems can be exacerbated due to connectivity between marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, complicating the already daunting task of governance across the land-sea interface. Globalization, including new access to markets, can change social-ecological, land-sea linkages via livelihood responses and adaptations by local people. As a first step in understanding these trans-ecosystem effects, we examined exit and entry decisions of artisanal fishers and smallholder farmers on the rapidly globalizing Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. We found that exit and entry decisions demonstrated clear temporal and spatial patterns and that these decisions differed by livelihood. In addition to household characteristics, livelihood exit and entry decisions were strongly affected by new access to regional and global markets. The natural resource implications of these livelihood decisions are potentially profound as they provide novel linkages and spatially-explicit feedbacks between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Our findings support the need for more scientific inquiry in understanding trans-ecosystem tradeoffs due to linked-livelihood transitions as well as the need for a trans-ecosystem approach to natural resource management and development policy in rapidly changing coastal regions.

Dilemmas of modelling and decision-making in environmental research

Allison AEF, Dickson ME, Fisher KT, Thrush SF. Dilemmas of modelling and decision-making in environmental research. Environmental Modelling & Software [Internet]. 2018 ;99:147 - 155. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364815217300749
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $19.95
Type: Journal Article

Multiple dilemmas confound social-ecological modelling. This review paper focuses on two: a modeller's dilemma associated with determining appropriate levels of model simplification, and a dilemma of decision-making relating to the use of models that were never designed to predict. We analyse approaches for addressing these dilemmas as they relate to shallow coastal systems and conclude that wicked problems cannot be adequately addressed using traditional disciplinary or systems engineering modelling. Simplified inter- and trans-disciplinary models have the potential to identify directions of system change, challenge thinking in disciplinary silos, and ultimately confront the dilemmas of social-ecological modelling.

A Keyword Approach to Finding Common Ground in Community-Based Definitions of Human Well-Being

Fulford RS, Krauss I, Yee S, Russell M. A Keyword Approach to Finding Common Ground in Community-Based Definitions of Human Well-Being. Human Ecology [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10745-017-9940-3
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Ecosystem-based management involves the integration of ecosystem services and their human beneficiaries into decision making. This can occur at multiple scales; addressing global issues such as climate change down to local problems such as flood protection and maintaining water quality. At the local scale it can be challenging to achieve a consistent and sustainable outcome across multiple communities, particularly when they differ in resource availability and management priorities. A key requirement for consistent decision support at the community level is to identify common community objectives, as these can form the basis for readily transferable indices of ecosystem benefit and human well-being. We used a keyword-based approach to look for common terminology in community fundamental objectives as a basis for transferable indices of human well-being and then compared those commonalities to community demographics, location, and type. Analysis centered on strategic planning documents readily available from coastal communities in the conterminous United States. We examined strategic planning documents based on eight domains of human well-being, and found that Living Standards and Safety and Security were the most commonly addressed domains, and Health and Cultural Fulfillment were the least. In comparing communities, regional differences were observed in only one well-being domain, Safety and Security, while community type yielded significant differences in five of the eight domains examined. Community type differences followed an urban to rural trend with urban communities focusing on Education and Living Standards, and more rural communities focused on Social Cohesion and Leisure Time. Across all eight domains multivariate analysis suggested communities were distributed along two largely orthogonal gradients; one between Living Standards and Leisure Time and or Connection to Nature, and a second between Safety and Security and Social Priorities (Education/Health/Culture/Social Cohesion). Overall these findings demonstrate the use of automated keyword analysis for obtaining information from community strategic planning documents. Moreover, the results indicate measures and perceptions of well-being at the local scale differ by community type. This information could be used in management of ecosystem services and development of indices of community sustainability that are applicable to multiple communities with similar demographics, regional location, and type.

Filling the gaps in ecological studies of socioecological systems

Chen I-C, Hsieh C-hao, Kondoh M, Lin H-J, Miki T, Nakamura M, Ohgushi T, Urabe J, Yoshida T. Filling the gaps in ecological studies of socioecological systems. Ecological Research [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11284-017-1521-9
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Our human-dominant world can be viewed as being built up in two parts, social and ecological systems, each consisting of multi-level organizations that interact in a complex manner. However, there are knowledge gaps among those interactions. In this paper, we focus on studies filling two types of gaps in the socioecological system, some of which are case studies in the East Asia region and others are discussed in a more general context. First, we address the gaps between different levels of organizations in ecological systems, namely, (1) the importance of plant trait plasticity in bridging evolution and ecology, (2) linking primary producer diversity and the dynamics of blue carbon in coastal ecosystems in the Asia–Pacific region, and (3) research direction of climate change biology to fill the gaps across evolution, community, and ecosystem. Also included is (4) the gap between ecological monitoring programs and theories, which also addresses the potential of citizen science. Second, we illustrate the gaps between ecological and social systems through ongoing development of an ecosystem management framework, i.e., ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction. Finally, we summarize the benefits of filling the gaps for ecologists and society.

Operationalising a social–ecological system perspective on the Arctic Ocean

Crépin A-S, Gren Å, Engström G, Ospina D. Operationalising a social–ecological system perspective on the Arctic Ocean. Ambio [Internet]. 2017 . Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-017-0960-4
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

We propose a framework to support management that builds on a social–ecological system perspective on the Arctic Ocean. We illustrate the framework’s application for two policy-relevant scenarios of climate-driven change, picturing a shift in zooplankton composition and alternatively a crab invasion. We analyse archetypical system dynamics between the socio-economic, the natural, and the governance systems in these scenarios. Our holistic approach can help managers identify looming problems arising from complex system interactions and prioritise among problems and solutions, even when available data are limited.

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