Presenter/Author Information

Margaret Allen, University of WashingtonFollow

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Integrating Social Science into Ecosystem-Based Management

Description

A commonly observed paradox in conservation is that restriction of people’s access to nature and natural resources may protect ecosystem health, but sometimes decreases the wellbeing of local people and can invite conflict and reduce people’s willingness to protect resources. At a middle ground between complete protection and unrestricted commercial use is ecosystem-based management (EBM), which strives to maximize the overall wellbeing of both people and ecosystems. An important domain of human wellbeing to track for the purposes of EBM is resource access, or the ability to gain and maintain uses and benefits of the natural environment. Access does not simply refer to the physical and legal ability to benefit from resources; it can also depend on political power, social capital, and economic capacity. Understanding who is allowed to use what, in what ways, and when also reflects other related dimensions of wellbeing, such as food security, meaningful livelihoods, fairness, and sovereignty. This paper reports on the results of a systematic process to identify indicators of resource access to inform US marine and coastal management. Based on a comprehensive literature review, 82 candidate indicators were evaluated according to predefined screening criteria. Top scoring indicators include objective and subjective measures of shoreline access, fishing permits and landings, and access to seafood markets. This working selection of indicators may be used to inform a range of EBM goals, from biodiversity conservation to poverty alleviation. The related literature suggests that measuring these indicators alone will not lead to better marine management, however; local communities must be involved in defining and implementing what counts as secured rights and access to natural resources, and how this relates to their own wellbeing and sustainable marine conservation.

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A commonly observed paradox in conservation is that restriction of people’s access to nature and natural resources may protect ecosystem health, but sometimes decreases the wellbeing of local people and can invite conflict and reduce people’s willingness to protect resources. At a middle ground between complete protection and unrestricted commercial use is ecosystem-based management (EBM), which strives to maximize the overall wellbeing of both people and ecosystems. An important domain of human wellbeing to track for the purposes of EBM is resource access, or the ability to gain and maintain uses and benefits of the natural environment. Access does not simply refer to the physical and legal ability to benefit from resources; it can also depend on political power, social capital, and economic capacity. Understanding who is allowed to use what, in what ways, and when also reflects other related dimensions of wellbeing, such as food security, meaningful livelihoods, fairness, and sovereignty. This paper reports on the results of a systematic process to identify indicators of resource access to inform US marine and coastal management. Based on a comprehensive literature review, 82 candidate indicators were evaluated according to predefined screening criteria. Top scoring indicators include objective and subjective measures of shoreline access, fishing permits and landings, and access to seafood markets. This working selection of indicators may be used to inform a range of EBM goals, from biodiversity conservation to poverty alleviation. The related literature suggests that measuring these indicators alone will not lead to better marine management, however; local communities must be involved in defining and implementing what counts as secured rights and access to natural resources, and how this relates to their own wellbeing and sustainable marine conservation.