Biodiversity and Society Nexus: A social-ecological tool based on the system thinking approach to support watershed resource management decision-making process in the context of climate change.

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Giancarlo Cesarello , Sonja Behmel, Beatrix Beisner, Isabelle Lavoie

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Provision of clean water represents a critical ecosystem service a watershed supplies to society based on its essential renewal cycle and the complex network of ecosystem regulating functions, providing drinking water and creating economic and social opportunities. The scientific community has linked such opportunities to detrimental impacts on the ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems with the warning of potential social-ecological loss and economical risk exposure if root causes are not identified and consensually mitigated. Future interventions entail the use of a holistic social-ecological approach during the decision-making process that will include, beside the traditional restoration activities, social adaptive processes, and the impact of climate change. The social-ecological dynamics of Lake St-Charles (Quebec, Canada) result in a system too complex to analyze with the traditional linear problem-solving method. We present a social-ecological tool to support the resource  management decision-making process, capturing the regulating processes affecting the ecological integrity of the  lake. The tool is developed using the “systems thinking” method to capture and explore the system complexity with the support of a causal loop diagram (CLD). The tool capacitates the water governance and stakeholders to better understand the complexity of the process regulating the ecological integrity of the lake. It also allows stakeholders to realize their responsibilities, accountabilities, gains, and losses, fostering their collaboration in the identification of mitigating measures to achieve more favourable future scenarios. Recent declines in the lake ecosystem’s health have been attributed to the intensification of human activities and the delayed response of the watershed governance in introducing effective mitigating measures to stop the progressive deterioration of the lake’s ecological integrity

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program