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The purpose of this paper is to propose a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary to answer the question: what extent of landscapes, bioregions, continents, and the…
The purpose of this paper is to propose a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary to answer the question: what extent of landscapes, bioregions, continents, and the global Earth System must remain as connected and intact core ecological areas and agro-ecological buffers to sustain local and regional ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons?
This observational study reviews planetary boundary, biosphere, climate, ecosystems, and ecological tipping point science. It presents a refinement to planetary boundary science to include a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary based on landscape ecology and percolation theory. The paper concludes with discussion of the urgency posed by ecosystem collapse.
A new planetary boundary threshold is proposed based on ecology's percolation theory: that across scales 60 percent of terrestrial ecosystems must remain, setting the boundary at 66 percent as a precaution, to maintain key biogeochemical processes that sustain the biosphere and for ecosystems to remain the context for human endeavors. Strict protection is proposed for 44 percent of global land, 22 percent as agro-ecological buffers, and 33 percent as zones of sustainable human use.
It is not possible to carry out controlled experiments on Earth's one biosphere, removing landscape connectivity to see long-term effects results upon ecological well-being.
Spatially explicit goals for the amount and connectivity of natural and agro-ecological ecosystems to maintain ecological connectivity across scales may help in planning land use, including protection and placement of ecological restoration activities.
This paper proposes the first measureable and spatially explicit terrestrial ecosystem loss threshold as part of planetary boundary science.
Human beings are inseparable from the environment because of their dependence on ecosystems and their services (Schroter, 2009). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) identifies ecosystem services as vital links between humans and ecosystems because these services are essential for human well-being, especially in terms of security, basic materials for a good life, health, good social relations, and freedom of choice and action. Ecosystem services include flows of materials, energy, and information from natural resources that combined with manufactured and human resources contribute to human well-being (Costanza et al., 1997). These include provisioning services (e.g., food, fresh water, wood and fiber, fuel), regulating services (e.g., climate, flood and disease regulation, water purification), supporting services (e.g., nutrient cycling, soil formation, primary production), and cultural services (e.g., aesthetic, spiritual, educational, and recreational value). The regulating services provided by ecosystems, in particular, are critical for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Ecosystems primarily affect both the probability and the severity of events and modulate the effects of extreme events. For example, soils store large amounts of water, facilitate transfer of surface water to groundwater, and prevent or reduce flooding, and natural buffers reduce hazards by absorbing runoff peaks and storm surges.
The chapter tries to trace the development of concept of urban ecosystem as a problem-solving approach for urban problems, including the unwarranted problems caused by…
The chapter tries to trace the development of concept of urban ecosystem as a problem-solving approach for urban problems, including the unwarranted problems caused by climate change. Urban management has increasingly shifted from infrastructure-based to a more regional-based approach. There has been a shift in the domain of urban ecosystem as well, from the established urbanized area to the aggregation of urban and surrounding rural area. Also, urban-rural linkages are given more attention in resource management in urban areas, thereby reducing the overall risk due to climate change. The chapter provides examples and challenges of urban ecosystem management from across the world.
Ecosystem services are essential for human well-being. The chapter explores the linkages between ecosystems and ecosystem services, biodiversity, and the Millennium…
Ecosystem services are essential for human well-being. The chapter explores the linkages between ecosystems and ecosystem services, biodiversity, and the Millennium Development Goals. Specifically, it focuses on the discussions in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the ecosystem approach within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and ecosystems’ role in the achievement of specific targets of the Millennium Development Goals. It highlights the need for ecosystem-based approaches to ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, and attainment of human well-being.
The assessment of ecosystem services (ES) in urban areas can be an important policy instrument for both strategic directives at national and regional levels and concrete…
The assessment of ecosystem services (ES) in urban areas can be an important policy instrument for both strategic directives at national and regional levels and concrete actions at municipality level. A unifying underpinning framework that combines different administrative levels through a common, consistent basis would greatly facilitate the mainstreaming of such an instrument. Three key concepts underpin this framework: urban ecosystems, nature-based solutions (NBS), and ES. First, NBS are acknowledged as the ecological assets that in the urban context can provide ES, meant as complex processes made possible through the existence of natural and seminatural systems at various scales. Second, the classification of urban ecosystems needs to be consistent with the treatment of urban areas in ecosystem accounting and with NBS levels of intervention and primary objectives. Third, by serving societal challenges, it is important to clearly frame the strategic drivers of change: whether it concerns management practices of current land use or radical conversions in land use. Finally, once such a framework will be in place, it can facilitate sustainability assessment in urban ecosystems by quantifying the presence of NBS, whose creation/maintenance assure the delivery of ES. The purpose of this chapter is to theoretically frame an ES-based approach, but this is only a first step. Many more steps are required on to concretely put this framework in practice at different administrative levels, such as strategic planning and policy setting (at national level), and urban, peri-urban, and coastal development (at municipal level).
Reports that while overconsumption of the world’s natural resources is a problem in developed nations, it is population growth and biological resource depletion that are…
Reports that while overconsumption of the world’s natural resources is a problem in developed nations, it is population growth and biological resource depletion that are the bane of developing nations. Uses India as an example for discussing biodiversity, natural resource issues and ecosystem function in an Asian context. Examines the linkages between ecological and social processes when humans are integrated within the structural and functional attributes of the ecosystem. Suggests a holistic approach for the rehabilitation and sustainable development of rural systems, so conserving biodiversity and natural resources.
Between 2006 and 2016, local communities in semi-arid Bobirwa sub-district in the Limpopo Basin part of Botswana had endured notable fluctuations in the delivery of…
Between 2006 and 2016, local communities in semi-arid Bobirwa sub-district in the Limpopo Basin part of Botswana had endured notable fluctuations in the delivery of critical ecosystem services. These changes have been coupled with adverse effects on local people’s livelihood options and well-being. However, a few such studies have focussed on the semi-arid to arid landscapes. This study therefore aims to provide recent knowledge and evidence of consequences of environmental change on semi-arid arid landscapes and communities.
To examine these recent changes in key ecosystem services, the authors conducted six participatory mapping processes, eight key informant interviews and several rapid scoping appraisals in three study villages. The analyses were centred on changes in seasonal quantities, seasonality, condition of ecosystem service sites, distance to ecosystem service sites and total area providing these services. Drivers of change in the delivery of key ecosystem services and the associated adverse impacts on human well-being of these recent changes in bundles of ecosystem services delivered were also analyzed.
Results show that adverse weather conditions, drought frequency, changes in land-use and/or land-cover together with unsustainable harvesting because of human influx on local resources have intensified in the past decade. There was circumstantial evidence that these drivers have resulted in adverse changes in quantities and seasonality of key ecosystem services such as edible Mopane caterpillars, natural pastures, wild fruits and cultivated crops. Similarly, distance to, condition and total area of sites providing some of the key ecosystem services such as firewood and natural pastures changed adversely. These adverse changes in the key ecosystem services were shown to increasingly threaten local livelihoods and human well-being.
This paper discusses the importance of engaging rural communities in semi-arid areas in a participatory manner and how such information can provide baseline information for further research. The paper also shows the utility of such processes and information toward integrating community values and knowledge into decisions regarding the management and utilization of local ecosystem services under a changing climate in data-poor regions such as the Bobirwa sub-district of Botswana. However, the extent to which this is possible depends on the decision makers’ willingness to support local initiatives through existing government structures and programmes.
This study shows the importance of engaging communities in a participatory manner to understand changes in local ecosystem services considering their unique connection with the natural environment. This is a critical step for decision makers toward integrating community values in the management and utilization of ecosystem services under a changing climate as well as informing more sustainable adaptive responses in semi-arid areas. However, the extent to which decision makers can integrate such findings to inform more sustainable responses to declining capacity of local ecosystems in semi-arid areas depends on how they value the bottom-up approach of gaining local knowledge as well as their willingness to support local initiatives through existing government structures and programmes.
The purpose of this paper is to present an approach aimed at facilitating nature conservation that builds on the ecological and social synergies that exist in…
The purpose of this paper is to present an approach aimed at facilitating nature conservation that builds on the ecological and social synergies that exist in traditionally managed landscapes in and around protected areas and integrates conservation and social goals to achieve a reduction in the levels of marginalization of indigenous and local communities while preventing ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.
Drawing on literature research and insights from political and historical ecology and systems theory, a framework was developed to aid the understanding of human‐environment interactions taking place in traditionally managed ecosystems and landscapes and to monitor the role that these interactions play in the maintenance of such systems.
Virtually all ecosystems and landscapes must be seen as coupled social‐ecological systems whose ability to respond to stresses and change derives from ecological and social characteristics, as well as from the link between these natural and human components. A variety of mechanisms by which indigenous and rural communities help anchor biodiversity and contribute to social‐ecological resilience were identified.
This paper challenges the rationale behind exclusionary approaches to nature conservation. Indicators are developed to facilitate a shift towards the widespread adoption of “human‐centered” conservation practices, in which nature conservation benefits from the inclusion and empowerment of human communities instead of their exclusion and marginalization.
In the context of natural disasters and climate change, ecosystems are critical natural capital because of their ability to regulate climate and natural hazards. This…
In the context of natural disasters and climate change, ecosystems are critical natural capital because of their ability to regulate climate and natural hazards. This chapter examines the important role of ecosystems and their services in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. It discusses the relevance of adopting ecosystem-based approaches in managing risks brought about by a changing climate.
The unsustainable management of ecosystem services often arises as a result of the non-recognition of the multiple benefits or under-valuation of ecosystem services. The…
The unsustainable management of ecosystem services often arises as a result of the non-recognition of the multiple benefits or under-valuation of ecosystem services. The chapter looks at economic valuation as an essential tool in ecosystem management decision-making and policy. It discusses the economics of ecosystem services, explains the motivations for economic valuation, describes economic valuation methods, and examines the limitations of economic valuation. It emphasizes that economic valuation can be a powerful and convincing tool for placing ecosystems on the agenda of planners and decision-makers.