July 14, 2019
Achieving social and ecological goals of coastal management through integrated monitoring
Publishers: British Ecological Society, Journal of Applied Ecology
Funder: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Conservation Program
Authors: Adel Heenan, Adrienne Loerzel, Danika Kleiber, Marybelle Quinata, Matt Gorstein, Mia Iwane, Supin Wongbusarakum, Valerie Brown
Successful resource management relies on an understanding of the complex relationships between social and natural systems and their governance (Berkes et al., 2016). Taken together these interacting systems have been described as part of a social‐ecological system (SES). Here, natural system refers to the biological and physical (biophysical) system and is used interchangeably with ecological system or ecosystem. Social system is used to characterize the interactions within and among human communities and their institutions, particularly those related to resource governance. The SES framework was developed to explain the many complexities of these relationships, but also to characterize what contexts and processes could help improve the management of natural resources (Ostrom, 2009). More specifically, SES has been defined as 'a system that includes societal (human) and ecological (biophysical) subsystems in mutual interactions' (Harrington et al., 2010) or a system 'where social and ecological systems are mutually dependent' (Fidel, Kliskey, Alessa, & Sutton, 2014). Management is most successful when it maximizes the benefits that natural resources provide to people and human stewardship of the environment. To date, limited evidence linking conservation and natural resource management interventions to human well‐being exists (McKinnon et al., 2016). Monitoring must adapt to capture this complexity, and in particular, focus sharply on the interactions and interdependencies of natural and social systems. In the sustainability sciences, when monitoring is part of adaptive management, the purpose is to track ecosystem change over time, assess management implementation, and evaluate how well objectives were achieved (Kendall & Moore, 2012). Natural resource managers have monitored the biophysical status of ecosystems for decades; however, monitoring social systems has not been as well defined nor have the links between biophysical and social systems been adequately addressed (Wongbusarakum & Heenan, 2018). While conceptual frameworks for SES have advanced (Ostrom, 2009), practical approaches are needed to examine human–environment interactions in different contexts and specific scales (Fleischman et al., 2014; Kittinger, Finkbeiner, Glazier, & Crowder, 2012). Integration of monitoring efforts may enhance the understanding of human‐derived benefits from natural systems and improve natural resource management.