Castello, L., D.G. McGrath, L.L. Hess, M.T. Coe, P.A. Lefebvre, P. Petry, M.N. Macedo, V.F. Renó, and C.C. Arantes, 2012: “The vulnerability of Amazon freshwater ecosystems.” Conservation Letters, doi: 10.1111/conl.12008.
The hydrological connectivity of freshwater ecosystems in the Amazon basin makes them highly sensitive to a broad range of anthropogenic activities occurring in aquatic and terrestrial systems at local and distant locations. Amazon freshwater ecosystems are suffering escalating impacts caused by expansions in deforestation, pollution, construction of dams and waterways, and overharvesting of animal and plant species. The natural functions of these ecosystems are changing, and their capacity to provide historically important goods and services is declining. Existing management policies—including national water resources legislation, community-based natural resource management schemes, and the protected area network that now epitomizes the Amazon conservation paradigm—cannot adequately curb most impacts. Such management strategies are intended to conserve terrestrial ecosystems, have design and implementation deficiencies, or fail to account for the hydrologic connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. There is an urgent need to shift the Amazon conservation paradigm, broadening its current forest-centric focus to encompass the freshwater ecosystems that are vital components of the basin. This is possible by developing a river catchment-based conservation framework for the whole basin that protects both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Brooks, J.S., K.A. Waylen, and M.B. Mulder, 2012: “How national context, project design, and local community characteristics influence success in community-based conservation projects.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 109, pp. 21,265-21,270, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1207141110.
Community-based conservation (CBC) promotes the idea that conservation success requires engaging with, and providing benefits for, local communities. However, CBC projects are neither consistently successful nor free of controversy. Innovative recent studies evaluating the factors associated with success and failure typically examine only a single resource domain, have limited geographic scope, consider only one outcome, or ignore the nested nature of socioecological systems. To remedy these issues, we use a global comparative database of CBC projects identified by systematic review to evaluate success in four outcome domains (attitudes, behaviors, ecological, economic) and explore synergies and trade-offs among these outcomes. We test hypotheses about how features of the national context, project design, and local community characteristics affect these measures of success. Using bivariate analyses and multivariate proportional odds logistic regressions within a multilevel analysis and model-fitting framework, we show that project design, particularly capacity-building in local communities, is associated with success across all outcomes. In addition, some characteristics of the local community in which projects are conducted, such as tenure regimes and supportive cultural beliefs and institutions, are important for project success. Surprisingly, there is little evidence that national context systematically influences project outcomes. We also find evidence of synergies between pairs of outcomes, particularly between ecological and economic success. We suggest that well-designed and implemented projects can overcome many of the obstacles imposed by local and national conditions to succeed in multiple domains.
Chen, L., S.B. Roy, and R.A. Goldstein, 2012: “Projected freshwater withdrawals under efficiency scenarios for electricity generation and municipal use in the United States for 2030.” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, doi: 10.1111/jawr.12013.
Water withdrawals in the United States (U.S.) have been relatively uniform over the past two decades on a nationally aggregated basis, although on a more highly resolved geographical basis, increases have occurred, largely associated with growth in population and the cooling needs for new electricity generation. Using recent county-level water use data, we develop projections for five different scenarios, bracketing a range of future conditions, and representing different levels of efficiency in the municipal and electricity generation sectors, where the municipal sector includes public and self-supplied domestic withdrawals. Starting with the 2005 estimate of 347 billion gallons per day (bgd) of freshwater withdrawal in the continental U.S., our analysis shows that under a business-as-usual scenario of growth, there will be a need for additional water over current levels: 11 bgd in the municipal sector, with a smaller requirement for new electricity generation (1 bgd). However, we also estimate that withdrawals could be reduced significantly over current levels, through increased water use efficiencies in the electric power and municipal sectors. The study shows that if water withdrawals are to be held at their current levels for the thermoelectric and municipal sectors individually at a county level over the next 25 years, large improvements in efficiency will be needed in many parts of the Southeast and Southwest.
Bos, J.J., and R.R. Brown, 2013: “Realising sustainable urban water management: Can social theory help?” Water Science and Technology, v. 67, pp. 109–116, doi: 10.2166/wst.2012.538.
It has been acknowledged, in Australia and beyond, that existing urban water systems and management lead to unsustainable outcomes. Therefore, our current socio-technical systems, consisting of institutions, structures and rules, which guide traditional urban water practices, need to change. If a change towards sustainable urban water management (SUWM) practices is to occur, a transformation of our established social-technical configuration that shapes the behaviour and decision making of actors is needed. While some constructive innovations that support this transformation have occurred, most innovations remain of a technical nature. These innovative projects do not manage to achieve the widespread social and institutional change needed for further diffusion and uptake of SUWM practices. Social theory, and its research, is increasingly being recognised as important in responding to the challenges associated with evolving to a more sustainable form of urban water management. This paper integrates three areas of social theories around change in order to provide a conceptual framework that can assist with socio-technical system change. This framework can be utilised by urban water practitioners in the design of interventions to stimulate transitions towards SUWM.
Paloniemi, R., E. Apostolopoulou, E. Primmer, M. Grodzinska-Jurcak, K. Henle, I. Ring, M. Kettunen, J. Tzanopoulos, S. Potts, S. van den Hove, P. Marty, A. McConville, and J. Simila, 2012: “Biodiversity conservation across scales: lessons from a science–policy dialogue.” Nature Conservation, v. 2, pp. 7-19, doi: 10.3897/natureconservation.2.3144.
One of the core challenges of biodiversity conservation is to better understand the interconnectedness and interactions of scales in ecological and governance processes. These interrelationships constitute not only a complex analytical challenge but they also open up a channel for deliberative discussions and knowledge exchange between and among various societal actors which may themselves be operating at various scales, such as policy makers, land use planners, members of NGOs, and researchers. In this paper, we discuss and integrate the perspectives of various disciplines academics and stakeholders who participated in a workshop on scales of European biodiversity governance organised in Brussels in the autumn of 2010. The 23 participants represented various governmental agencies and NGOs from the European, national, and sub-national levels. The data from the focus group discussions of the workshop were analysed using qualitative content analysis. The core scale-related challenges of biodiversity policy identified by the participants were cross-level and cross-sector limitations as well as ecological, social and social-ecological complexities that potentially lead to a variety of scale-related mismatches. As ways to address these challenges the participants highlighted innovations, and an aim to develop new interdisciplinary approaches to support the processes aiming to solve current scale challenges.
Olden, J.D., M.J. Kennard, and B.J. Pusey, 2012: “A framework for hydrologic classification with a review of methodologies and applications in ecohydrology.” Ecohydrology, v. 5, pp. 503-518, doi: 10.1002/eco.251.
Hydrologic classification is one of the most widely applied tasks in ecohydrology. During the last two decades, a considerable effort has gone into analysis and development of methodological approaches to hydrologic classification. We reviewed the process of hydrologic classification, differentiating between an approach based on deductive reasoning using environmental regionalization, hydrologic regionalization and environmental classification whereby environmental variables assumed to be key determinants of hydrology are analysed and one based on inductive reasoning using streamflow classification whereby hydrologic data are analysed directly. We explored past applications in ecohydrology, highlighting the utility of classifications in the extrapolation of hydrologic information across sparsely gauged landscapes, the description of spatial patterns in hydrologic variability, aiding water resource management, and in the identification and prioritization of conservation areas. We introduce an overarching methodological framework that depicts critical components of the classification process and summarize important advantages and disadvantages of commonly used statistical approaches to characterize and predict hydrologic classes. Our hope is that researchers and managers will be better informed when having to make decisions regarding the selection and proper implementation of methods for hydrologic classification in the future.
Bass, M.S., and Coauthors, 2010: “Global conservation significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park.” PLoS ONE, v. 5, no. 1, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008767.
The threats facing Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park are emblematic of those confronting the greater western Amazon, one of the world’s last high-biodiversity wilderness areas. Notably, the country’s second largest untapped oil reserves—called “ITT”—lie beneath an intact, remote section of the park. The conservation significance of Yasuní may weigh heavily in upcoming state-level and international decisions, including whether to develop the oil or invest in alternatives.
We conducted the first comprehensive synthesis of biodiversity data for Yasuní. Mapping amphibian, bird, mammal, and plant distributions, we found eastern Ecuador and northern Peru to be the only regions in South America where species richness centers for all four taxonomic groups overlap. This quadruple richness center has only one viable strict protected area (IUCN levels I–IV): Yasuní. The park covers just 14% of the quadruple richness center’s area, whereas active or proposed oil concessions cover 79%. Using field inventory data, we compared Yasuní’s local (alpha) and landscape (gamma) diversity to other sites, in the western Amazon and globally. These analyses further suggest that Yasuní is among the most biodiverse places on Earth, with apparent world richness records for amphibians, reptiles, bats, and trees. Yasuní also protects a considerable number of threatened species and regional endemics.
Yasuní has outstanding global conservation significance due to its extraordinary biodiversity and potential to sustain this biodiversity in the long term because of its 1) large size and wilderness character, 2) intact large-vertebrate assemblage, 3) IUCN level-II protection status in a region lacking other strict protected areas, and 4) likelihood of maintaining wet, rainforest conditions while anticipated climate change-induced drought intensifies in the eastern Amazon. However, further oil development in Yasuní jeopardizes its conservation values. These findings form the scientific basis for policy recommendations, including stopping any new oil activities and road construction in Yasuní and creating areas off-limits to large-scale development in adjacent northern Peru.