The concept of ecosystem services (ES), the benefits humans derive from ecosystems, is increasingly applied to environmental conservation, human wellbeing and poverty alleviation, and to inform the development of interventions. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) implicitly recognize the unequal distribution of the costs and benefits of maintaining ES, through monetary compensation from 'winners' to 'losers'. Some research into PES has examined how such schemes affect poverty, while other literature addresses trade-offs between different ES. However, much evolving ES literature adopts an aggregated perspective of humans and their well-being, which can disregard critical issues for poverty alleviation. This paper identifies four issues with examples from coastal ES in developing countries. First, different groups derive well-being benefits from different ES, creating winners and losers as ES, change. Second, dynamic mechanisms of access determine who can benefit. Third, individuals' contexts and needs determine how ES contribute to well-being. Fourth, aggregated analyses may neglect crucial poverty alleviation mechanisms such as cash-based livelihoods. To inform the development of ES interventions that contribute to poverty alleviation, disaggregated analysis is needed that focuses on who derives which benefits from ecosystems, and how such benefits contribute to the well-being of the poor. These issues present challenges in data availability and selection of how and at which scales to disaggregate. Disaggregation can be applied spatially, but should also include social groupings, such as gender, age and ethnicity, and is most important where inequality is greatest. Existing tools, such as stakeholder analysis and equity weights, can improve the relevance of ES research to poverty alleviation.
Disturbances to key aspects of ecological systems, including biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and natural resource degradation, have become a major concern to many policy analysts. Instead of learning from the study of biological complexity however, social scientists tend to recommend simple panaceas, particularly government or private ownership, as 'the' way to solve these problems. This paper reviews and assesses potential solutions for such overly simplified institutional prescriptions, referred to here as the 'panacea problem'. In contrast to these simple prescriptions, recent research efforts are now illustrating the diversity of institutions around the world related to environmental conservation. The complexity of working institutions, however, presents a challenge to scholars who equate scientific knowledge with relatively simple models that predict optimal performance if specific institutional arrangements are in place. Dealing with this complexity has led to the development of frameworks as meta-theoretical tools. The institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework has been used over the last three decades as a foundation for a focused analysis of how institutions affect human incentives, actions and outcomes. Building on this foundation, the social-ecological systems (SES) framework has recently enabled researchers to begin the development of a common language that crosses social and ecological disciplines to analyse how interactions among a variety of factors affect outcomes. Such a framework may be able to facilitate a diagnostic approach that will help future analysts overcome the panacea problem. Using a common framework to diagnose the source, and possible amelioration, of poor outcomes for ecological and human systems enables a much finer understanding of these complex systems than has so far been obtained, and provides a basis for comparisons among many systems and ultimately more responsible policy prescriptions.
There is increasing emphasis on the need for effective ways of sharing knowledge to enhance environmental management and sustainability. Knowledge exchange (KE) are processes that generate, share and/or use knowledge through various methods appropriate to the context, purpose, and participants involved. KE includes concepts such as sharing, generation, coproduction, comanagement, and brokerage of knowledge. This paper elicits the expert knowledge of academics involved in research and practice of KE from different disciplines and backgrounds to review research themes, identify gaps and questions, and develop a research agenda for furthering understanding about KE. Results include 80 research questions prefaced by a review of research themes. Key conclusions are: (1) there is a diverse range of questions relating to KE that require attention; (2) there is a particular need for research on understanding the process of KE and how KE can be evaluated; and (3) given the strong interdependency of research questions, an integrated approach to understanding KE is required. To improve understanding of KE, action research methodologies and embedding evaluation as a normal part of KE research and practice need to be encouraged. This will foster more adaptive approaches to learning about KE and enhance effectiveness of environmental management.
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) has been on the ascendancy for several decades and plays a leading role in conservation strategies worldwide. Arriving out of a desire to rectify the human costs associated with coercive conservation, CBNRM sought to return the stewardship of biodiversity and natural resources to local communities through participation, empowerment and decentralization. Today, however, scholars and practitioners suggest that CBNRM is experiencing a crisis of identity and purpose, with even the most positive examples experiencing only fleeting success due to major deficiencies. Six case studies from around the world offer a history of how and why the global CBNRM narrative has unfolded over time and space. While CBNRM emerged with promise and hope, it often ended in less than ideal outcomes when institutionalized and reconfigured in design and practice. Nevertheless, despite the current crisis, there is scope for refocusing on the original ideals of CBNRM: ensuring social justice, material well-being and environmental integrity.
Tropical deforestation is a key contributor to species extinction and climate change, yet the extent of tropical forests and their rate of destruction and degradation through fragmentation remain poorly known. Madagascar's forests are among the most biologically rich and unique in the world but, in spite of longstanding concern about their destruction, past estimates of forest cover and deforestation have varied widely. Analysis of aerial photographs (c. 1953) and Landsat images (c. 1973, 1990 and 2000) indicates that forest cover decreased by almost 40% from the 1950s to c. 2000, with a reduction in 'core forest' > 1 km from a non-forest edge of almost 80%. This forest destruction and degradation threaten thousands of species with extinction. Country-wide coverage of highresolution validated forest cover and deforestation data enables the precise monitoring of trends in habitat extent and fragmentation critical for assessment of species' conservation status.
How can the governance of environment and resources be devolved in a way that incorporates effective user participation and feedback learning? Approaches that use the idea of adaptive management or learning-by-doing, combined with co-management, are particularly promising. Using an interdisciplinary literature covering many types of resources, and a conceptual model with three phases (communicative action, self-organization and collective action), the paper identifies some of the major processes leading to adaptive co-management. These include deliberation, visioning, building social capital, trust and institutions, capacity-building through networks and partnerships, and action-reflection-action loops for social learning. Such adaptive co-management is not simply a theoretical possibility but something that has been documented in a number of forestry, fisheries, wildlife, protected area, and wetland cases from both developed and developing countries. However, the experience with the decentralization reforms of the 1990s is largely negative for a number of reasons. Effective devolution takes time, requiring a shift in focus from a static concept of management to a dynamic concept of governance shaped by interactions, feedback learning and adaptation over time. Sharing of governance responsibilities and an ability to learn from experience are among the emerging trends in environmental management.
Sustainability science has developed from a new research field into a vibrant discipline in its own right, with scientific conferences, journals and scientific societies dedicated to its pursuit.Characterized more by its research purpose than by a common set of methods or objects, sustainability science can be subdivided into the more traditional disciplinary-based science for sustainability and the transdisciplinary science of sustainability. Whereas the former consists of more descriptive, analytical and basic science, the latter is characterized by reflexivity and applicability; on a meta level, the emergence of the latter can be understood as a new step in the evolution of science. This review provides an overview of the state of sustainability science, identifying action orientation, integrated assessments and interdisciplinarity as overall characteristics.The review also focuses on methodological issues, highlighting differences in project organization and management, and the ways in which stakeholder participation can be organized in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects. Sustainability science is recognized as essential for progress towards sustainability, and as an opportunity to bring science closer to the people, requiring significant changes in the way science is organized and conducted.
Conservation is at a critical juncture because of the increase in poaching which threatens key species. Poaching is a major public concern, as indicated by the rises in rhino and elephant poaching, the United for Wildlife Initiative and the London Declaration, signed by 46 countries in February 2014. This is accompanied by an increasing calls for a more forceful response, especially to tackle the involvement of organized crime in wildlife trafficking. However, there is a risk that this will be counter-productive. Further, such calls are based on a series of assumptions which are worthy of greater scrutiny. First, calls for militarization are based on the idea that poverty drives poaching. Yet, poaching and trafficking are changing because of the shifting dynamics of poverty in supply countries, coupled with changing patterns of wealth in consumer markets. Second, the ways increases in poaching are being linked to global security threats, notably from Al Shabaab are poorly evidenced and yet circulate in powerful policy circles. There is a risk that militarization will place more heavily armed rangers in the centre of some of the most complex regional conflicts in the world (such as the Horn of Africa and Central Africa/Sahel region).
SUMMARY Assessing the cultural benefits provided by non-market ecosystem services can contribute previously unknown information to supplement conservation decision-making. The concept of sense of place embeds all dimensions of peoples' perceptions and interpretations of the environment, such as attachment, identity or symbolic meaning, and has the potential to link social and ecological issues. This review contains: (1) an evaluation of the importance of sense of place as an ecosystem service; and (2) comprehensive discussion as to how incorporating sense of place in an evaluation can uncover potential benefits for both biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Sense of place provides physical and psychological benefits to people, and has neglected economic value. The biodiversity-related experiences are essential components of the service that need to be further explored. A conceptual framework was used to explore how the existing knowledge on sense of place derived from other fields can be used to inform conservation decision-making, but further research is needed to fill existing gaps in knowledge. This review contributes to a better understanding of the role biodiversity plays in human well-being, and should inform the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Adaptive management (AM) emerged in the literature in the mid-1970s in response both to a realization of the extent of uncertainty involved in management, and a frustration with attempts to use modelling to integrate knowledge and make predictions. The term has since become increasingly widely used in scientific articles, policy documents and management plans, but both understanding and application of the concept is mixed. This paper reviews recent literature from conservation and natural resource management journals to assess diversity in how the term is used, highlight ambiguities and consider how the concept might be further assessed. AM is currently being used to describe many different management contexts, scales and locations. Few authors define the term explicitly or describe how it offers a means to improve management outcomes in their specific management context. Many do not adhere to the idea as it was originally conceived, despite citing seminal work. Significant confusion exists over the distinction between active and passive approaches. Over half of the studies reporting to implement AM claimed to have done so successfully, yet none quantified specific benefits, or costs, in relation to possible alternatives. Similarly those studies reporting to assess the approach did so only in relation to specific models and their parameterizations; none assessed the benefits or costs of AM in the field. AM is regarded by some as an effective and well established framework to support the management of natural resources, yet by others as a concept difficult to realize and fraught with implementation challenges; neither of these observations is wholly accurate. From a scientific and technical perspective many practical questions remain; in particular real-world assessments of the value of experimentation within a management framework, as well as of identified challenges and pathologies, are needed. Further discussion and systematic assessment of the approach is required, together with greater attention to its definition and description, enabling the assessment of new approaches to managing uncertainty, and AM itself.
No-take marine reserves are widely recognized as an effective conservation tool for protecting marine resources. Despite considerable empirical evidence that abundance and biomass of fished species increase within marine reserve boundaries, the potential for reserves to provide fisheries and conservation benefits to adjacent waters remains heavily debated. This paper uses statistical and population models to evaluate published empirical data on adult spillover from marine reserves and shows that spillover is a common phenomenon for species that respond positively to reserve protection, but at relatively small scales, detectable on average up to 800 m from reserve boundaries. At these small scales, local fisheries around reserves were likely unsustainable in 12 of 14 cases without the reserve, and spillover partially or fully offsets losses in catch due to reserve closure in the other two cases. For reserves to play a role in sustaining and replenishing larger-scale fished stocks, networks of reserves may be necessary, but as few exist this is difficult to evaluate. The results suggest reserves can simultaneously meet conservation objectives and benefit local fisheries adjacent to their boundaries.
Kelp forests are phyletically diverse, structurally complex and highly productive components of coldwater rocky marine coastlines. This paper reviews the conditions in which kelp forests develop globally and where, why and at what rate they become deforested. The ecology and long archaeological history of kelp forests are examined through case studies from southern California, the Aleutian Islands and the western North Atlantic, well-studied locations that represent the widest possible range in kelp forest biodiversity. Global distribution of kelp forests is physiologically constrained by light at high latitudes and by nutrients, warm temperatures and other macrophytes at low latitudes. Within mid-latitude belts (roughly 40-60° latitude in both hemispheres) well-developed kelp forests are most threatened by herbivory, usually from sea urchins. Overfishing and extirpation of highly valued vertebrate apex predators often triggered herbivore population increases, leading to widespread kelp deforestation. Such deforestations have the most profound and lasting impacts on species-depauperate systems, such as those in Alaska and the western North Atlantic. Globally urchininduced deforestation has been increasing over the past 2-3 decades. Continued fishing down of coastal food webs has resulted in shifting harvesting targets from apex predators to their invertebrate prey, including kelp-grazing herbivores. The recent global expansion of sea urchin harvesting has led to the widespread extirpation of this herbivore, and kelp forests have returned in some locations but, for the first time, these forests are devoid of vertebrate apex predators. In the western North Atlantic, large predatory crabs have recently filled this void and they have become the new apex predator in this system. Similar shifts from fish-to crab-dominance may have occurred in coastal zones of the United Kingdom and Japan, where large predatory finfish were extirpated long ago. Three North American case studies of kelp forests were examined to determine their long history with humans and project the status of future kelp forests to the year 2025. Fishing impacts on kelp forest systems have been both profound and much longer in duration than previously thought. Archaeological data suggest that coastal peoples exploited kelp forest organisms for thousands of years, occasionally resulting in localized losses of apex predators, outbreaks of sea urchin populations and probably small-scale deforestation. Over the past two centuries, commercial exploitation for export led to the extirpation of sea urchin predators, such as the sea otter in the North Pacific and predatory fishes like the cod in the North Atlantic. The largescale removal of predators for export markets increased sea urchin abundances and promoted the decline of kelp forests over vast areas. Despite southern California having one of the longest known associations with coastal kelp forests, widespread deforestation is rare. It is possible that functional redundancies among predators and herbivores make this most diverse system most stable. Such biodiverse kelp forests may also resist invasion from non-native species. In the species-depauperate western North Atlantic, introduced algal competitors carpet the benthos and threaten future kelp dominance. There, other non-native herbivores and predators have become established and dominant components of this system. Climate changes have had measurable impacts on kelp forest ecosystems and efforts to control the emission of greenhouse gasses should be a global priority. However, overfishing appears to be the greatest manageable threat to kelp forest ecosystems over the 2025 time horizon. Management should focus on minimizing fishing impacts and restoring populations of functionally important species in these systems.
Natural flood plains are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems on earth. Globally, riverine flood plains cover > 2 × 10⁶ km², however, they are among the most threatened ecosystems. Floodplain degradation is closely linked to the rapid decline in freshwater biodiversity; the main reasons for the latter being habitat alteration, flow and flood control, species invasion and pollution. In Europe and North America, up to 90% of flood plains are already 'cultivated' and therefore functionally extinct. In the developing world, the remaining natural flood plains are disappearing at an accelerating rate, primarily as a result of changing hydrology. Up to the 2025 time horizon, the future increase of human population will lead to further degradation of riparian areas, intensification of the hydrological cycle, increase in the discharge of pollutants, and further proliferation of species invasions. In the near future, the most threatened flood plains will be those in south-east Asia, Sahelian Africa and North America. There is an urgent need to preserve existing, intact flood plain rivers as strategic global resources and to begin to restore hydrologie dynamics, sediment transport and riparian vegetation to those rivers that retain some level of ecological integrity. Otherwise, dramatic extinctions of aquatic and riparian species and of ecosystem services are faced within the next few decades.
Efforts to promote popular participation in forest management in Sub-Saharan Africa have faced many obstacles and disappointments. Although promises of improvements in relation to forest management, rural livelihoods and local enfranchisement have been achieved in some cases, accounts of frustration outnumber those of success. Focusing on participation through democratic decentralization (namely the transfer of meaningful discretionary powers to local representative authorities), this paper reviews recent empirical studies on the outcomes of popular participation in forest management. The implementation of decentralization of forest management, and ecological, livelihood and democracy outcomes are examined, and misconceptions in analyses of decentralized forestry are explored. The expected benefits of democratic decentralization within forestry are rarely realized because democratic decentralization is rarely established. In most cases, local authorities do not represent the local population or their space of discretion is so narrow that they have little effect on management. There is little official local management taking place, even under so-called decentralized or participatory management arrangements. If ever significant space for local discretion under democratic authorities is created, researchers will have the opportunity to study whether democratic decentralization can deliver the theoretically promised positive outcomes. Nevertheless, some cases shed light on effects of local decision making. Three general observations are made on effects of decentralization. First, environmental, livelihood and democracy objectives are not always mutually reinforcing, and under some circumstances they may be at odds. Second, environmental effects of improved forest management often result in benefits accruing to distant or higher-scale aggregate populations, while local communities carry the costs. Third, poor peoples' use of natural resources to maintain their livelihoods often conflicts with profit and revenue interests of local elites, national commercial interests and governments. A negotiated minimum social and environmental standards approach to decentralization of forest management may safeguard essential ecological functions and at the same time protect essential livelihood and economic values of forests at all scales of society. The remainder of decisions, such as how forests are used, by whom and for what, could then be safely placed at the discretion of responsive local representatives.
Mangroves, the only woody halophytes living at the confluence of land and sea, have been heavily used traditionally for food, timber, fuel and medicine, and presently occupy about 181 000 km² of tropical and subtropical coastline. Over the past 50 years, approximately one-third of the world's mangrove forests have been lost, but most data show very variable loss rates and there is considerable margin of error in most estimates. Mangroves are a valuable ecological and economic resource, being important nursery grounds and breeding sites for birds, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, reptiles and mammals; a renewable source of wood; accumulation sites for sediment, contaminants, carbon and nutrients; and offer protection against coastal erosion. The destruction of mangroves is usually positively related to human population density. Major reasons for destruction are urban development, aquaculture, mining and overexploitation for timber, fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Over the next 25 years, unrestricted clear felling, aquaculture, and overexploitation of fisheries will be the greatest threats, with lesser problems being alteration of hydrology, pollution and global warming. Loss of biodiversity is, and will continue to be, a severe problem as even pristine mangroves are species-poor compared with other tropical ecosystems. The future is not entirely bleak. The number of rehabilitation and restoration projects is increasing worldwide with some countries showing increases in mangrove area. The intensity of coastal aquaculture appears to have levelled off in some parts of the world. Some commercial projects and economic models indicate that mangroves can be used as a sustainable resource, especially for wood. The brightest note is that the rate of population growth is projected to slow during the next 50 years, with a gradual decline thereafter to the end of the century. Mangrove forests will continue to be exploited at current rates to 2025, unless they are seen as a valuable resource to be managed on a sustainable basis. After 2025, the future of mangroves will depend on technological and ecological advances in multi-species silviculture, genetics, and forestry modelling, but the greatest hope for their future is for a reduction in human population growth.
Invasive alien species (IASs) on islands have broad impacts across biodiversity, agriculture, economy, health and culture, which tend to be stronger than on continents. Across small-island developing states (SIDSs), although only a small number of IASs are widely distributed, many more, including those with greatest impact, are found on only a small number of islands. Patterns of island invasion are not consistent across SIDS geographic regions, with differences attributable to correlated patterns in island biogeography and human development. We identify 15 of the most globally prevalent IASs on islands. IAS impacts on islands are exacerbated through interactions with a number of other global change threats, including over-exploitation, agricultural intensification, urban development and climate change. Biosecurity is critical in preventing IAS invasion of islands. Eradication of IASs on islands is possible at early stages of invasion, but otherwise is largely restricted to invasive mammals, or otherwise control is the only option. Future directions in IAS management and research on islands must consider IASs within a broader portfolio of threats to species, ecosystems and people's livelihoods on islands. We advocate for stronger collaborations among island countries and territories faced with the same IASs in similar socio-ecological environments.
Unlike most parts of the European Union (EU), Southern Transylvania (Central Romania) is characterized by an exceptionally high level of farmland biodiversity. This results from traditional small-scale farming methods that have maintained extensive areas of high nature value farmland. Following the post-socialist transition, Southern Transylvania faces serious challenges such as under-employment and rural population decline, which put traditional farming at risk. With Romania's accession to the EU in 2007, Southern Transylvania became part of a complex multi-level governance system that in principle provides mechanisms to balance biodiversity conservation and rural development. To this end, the most important instruments are the 'Natura 2000' network of protected areas and EU rural development policy. Structured questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with town hall representatives from 30 villages in Southern Transylvania and local EU experts revealed that EU policies are often poorly aligned with local conditions. To date, the implementation of EU rural development policy is strongly focused on economic development, with biodiversity conservation being of little concern. Moreover, relevant EU funding opportunities are poorly communicated. Bridging organizations should be strengthened to foster the implementation of a rural development strategy that integrates local needs and biodiversity conservation.
Forest conservation incentives are a popular approach to combatting tropical deforestation. Here we consider a case where direct economic incentives for forest conservation were offered to newly titled smallholders in a buffer zone of a protected area in the northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon. We used quasi-experimental impact evaluation methods to estimate changes in forest cover for 63 smallholders enrolled in Ecuador's Socio Bosque program compared to similar households that did not enroll. Focus group interviews in 15 communities provided insight into why landowners enrolled in the program and how land use is changing. The conservation incentives program reduced average annual deforestation by 0.4-0.5% between 2011 and 2013 for those enrolled, representing as much as a 70% reduction in deforestation attributable to Socio Bosque. Focus group interviews suggested that some landowners chose to 'invest' in conservation because the agricultural capacity of their land was limited and economic incentives provided an alternative livelihood strategy. Interviews, however, indicated limits to increasing enrollment rates under current conditions, due to lack of trust and liquidity constraints. Overall, a hybrid public-private governance approach can lead to larger conservation outcomes than restrictions alone.
Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are a relatively new economic policy instrument, and the factors that drive and explain their environmental performance are poorly understood. Here a meta-analysis of causal relationships between the institutional design and environmental performance of 47 payments for watershed services (PWS) schemes worldwide showed a significant effect on environmental achievement of the terms and conditions of scheme participation, including the selection of service providers, community participation, the existence and monitoring of quantifiable objectives, and the number of intermediaries between service providers and buyers. Direct payments by downstream hydropower companies to upstream land owners for reduced sediment loads were identified as a successful PWS example. No other significant explanatory factors, such as specific type of watershed service, age or scale of implementation of the PWS scheme were detected. The results are highly dependent on the reliability of the input variables, in particular the measurement of the environmental performance variable. Despite efforts to find quantitative information on the environmental performance of existing PWS schemes, such empirical evidence is lacking in many of the schemes studied. International monitoring guidelines are needed to facilitate comparisons, identify success factors and support the future design of cost-effective PWS schemes.
Extinctions have altered island ecosystems throughout the late Quaternary. Here, we review the main historic drivers of extinctions on islands, patterns in extinction chronologies between islands, and the potential for restoring ecosystems through reintroducing extirpated species. While some extinctions have been caused by climatic and environmental change, most have been caused by anthropogenic impacts. We propose a general model to describe patterns in these anthropogenic island extinctions. Hunting, habitat loss and the introduction of invasive predators accompanied prehistoric settlement and caused declines of endemic island species. Later settlement by European colonists brought further land development, a different suite of predators and new drivers, leading to more extinctions. Extinctions alter ecological networks, causing ripple effects for islands through the loss of ecosystem processes, functions and interactions between species. Reintroduction of extirpated species can help restore ecosystem function and processes, and can be guided by palaeoecology. However, reintroduction projects must also consider the cultural, social and economic needs of humans now inhabiting the islands and ensure resilience against future environmental and climate change.