The importance of social drivers in the resilient provision of ecosystem services

Martin D. Robards, Michael Schoon, Chanda L. Meek, Nathan L. Engle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While a sustained flow of ecosystem services brings tangible benefits to humans, some ecosystem states and suites of services may be more desired by some people than others. Allocating or using the flow of services is loaded with asymmetries, complex power dynamics and political struggles between groups of people. We argue that the issues associated with such allocation and use questions are poorly integrated into the literatures of resilience, sustainability, and vulnerability. To illustrate this, we focus on three socially constructed factors that inhibit a fuller understanding about how to sustain the flow of ecosystem services: (1) rigidity/poverty traps; (2) power asymmetries; and (3) scientization of policy/politicization of science. These factors limit our ability to assess the sustainable flows of ecosystem services, and in particular to better understand the trade-offs and limits to aggregate human activity. We demonstrate that an improved understanding of the allocation trade-offs and limits to the flows of ecosystem services could result from more applied research that integrates the developing fields of deliberative democracy, pragmatic environmental philosophy, and legitimacy and rule compliance. Without the understanding that such integration would bring, researchers and policy makers risk underestimating the limits on flows of ecosystem services and how to accomplish their provision toward the greater collective - rather than individual - good.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-529
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Fingerprint

ecosystem service
driver
asymmetry
deliberative democracy
rigidity
politicization
democracy
compliance
poverty
vulnerability
human activity
resilience
sustainability
pragmatics
legitimacy
ecosystem
ability
science
Group
policy

Keywords

  • Agency
  • Deliberation
  • Ecosystem service
  • Philosophy
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Global and Planetary Change

Cite this

The importance of social drivers in the resilient provision of ecosystem services. / Robards, Martin D.; Schoon, Michael; Meek, Chanda L.; Engle, Nathan L.

In: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 21, No. 2, 05.2011, p. 522-529.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Robards, Martin D. ; Schoon, Michael ; Meek, Chanda L. ; Engle, Nathan L. / The importance of social drivers in the resilient provision of ecosystem services. In: Global Environmental Change. 2011 ; Vol. 21, No. 2. pp. 522-529.
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