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Cumulative Effects Assessment: Linking Social, Ecological, and Governance Dimensions

Marian Weber, Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures
Naomi Krogman, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta
Terry Antoniuk, Salmo Consulting Inc.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04597-170222

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Abstract

Setting social, economic, and ecological objectives is ultimately a process of social choice informed by science. In this special feature we provide a multidisciplinary framework for the use of cumulative effects assessment in land use planning. Forest ecosystems are facing considerable challenges driven by population growth and increasing demands for resources. In a suite of case studies that span the boreal forest of Western Canada to the interior Atlantic forest of Paraguay we show how transparent and defensible methods for scenario analysis can be applied in data-limited regions and how social dimensions of land use change can be incorporated in these methods, particularly in aboriginal communities that have lived in these ecosystems for generations. The case studies explore how scenario analysis can be used to evaluate various land use options and highlight specific challenges with identifying social and ecological responses, determining thresholds and targets for land use, and integrating local and traditional knowledge in land use planning. Given that land use planning is ultimately a value-laden and often politically charged process we also provide some perspective on various collective and expert-based processes for identifying cumulative impacts and thresholds. The need for good science to inform and be informed by culturally appropriate democratic processes calls for well-planned and multifaceted approaches both to achieve an informed understanding of both residents and governments of the interactive and additive changes caused by development, and to design action agendas to influence such change at the ecological and social level.

Key words

cumulative effects; forest ecosystems; governance; scenario models; social indicators
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087