Ebook: Achieving Environmental Security: Ecosystem Services and Human Welfare
The world’s ecosystems are at increasing risk of rapid degradation and collapse, as documented in recently published accounts by the United Nations Environment Programme. Many societies are either unaware of the key value that diversity of animals, plants and other life-forms play in the role of healthy and functioning ecosystems and sustained human livelihoods, or are failing to develop policies and strategies for their protection. The challenges we face today are to recognize and anticipate change in ecosystem services in all of its forms and to appreciate human and societal dynamic impacts. To solve these challenging opportunities that mask themselves as insoluble problems, a gathering of renowned scientists from Africa, Europe, India, North America, the Middle East, North Africa and the Russian Federation, under the sponsorship of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program, EPA Ecosystem Services Research Program, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Desert Research Institute and the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, provides an extended exchange of views and experience. Collectively, they focused on ecosystem services in relation to human welfare, peace and security. This volume represents an extraordinary collective effort to define, design and deliver ecosystem services for the benefit of humanity. Achieving Environmental Security: Ecosystem Services and Human Welfare reflects NATO’s “third dimension,” which goes beyond cooperation in political and defense fields to encourage cooperation related to civil emergency planning and scientific and environmental cooperation and to focus on stability, sustainability and solidarity among peoples, states and regions, to understand, appreciate and incorporate ecosystem services into the way we live our lives.
Toward considering how the environment can be a security issue, this paper suggests that the praxis of security should be understood as extreme efforts within a larger management of uncertainty about the future. By focusing on this motivation for action rather than some locus of specialized (and perhaps) bureaucratic activity, such an approach may open the possibility for a more nuanced discussion about the idea of security. Within this wider frame, it is possible to recognize relationships among sources of uncertainty and alternative responses. Further, there is the conceptual flexibility for issues to be escalated when great uncertainty is identified and de-escalated as the means to address an uncertainty are developed and incorporated into normal routines of public administration.
A comprehensive understanding of earthquake risks in urbanized regions requires an accurate assessment of both urban vulnerabilities and earthquake hazards. Socioeconomic risks associated with human-triggered earthquakes are often misconstrued and receive little scientific, legal, and public attention. However, more than 200 damaging earthquakes, associated with industrialization and urbanization, were documented since the 20th century. This type of geohazard has impacts on human security on a regional and national level. For example, the 1989 Newcastle earthquake caused 13 deaths and US$3.5 billion damage (in 1989). The monetary loss was equivalent to 3.4 percent of Australia’s national income (GDI) or 80 percent of Australia’s GDI per capita growth of the same year. This article provides an overview of global statistics of human-triggered earthquakes. It describes how geomechanical pollution due to large-scale geoengineering activities can advance the clock of earthquakes or trigger new seismic events. Lastly, defense-oriented strategies and tactics are described, including risk mitigation measures such as urban planning adaptations and seismic hazard mapping.
In this paper we incorporate interdisciplinary New Institutional and Transaction Costs Economics, and suggest a framework for analysis of mechanisms of governance of agro-ecosystem services. First, we present a new approach for analysis and improvement of governance of agro-ecosystem services taking into account: the role of specific institutional environment (formal and informal rules, distribution, and enforcement of rights); behavioral characteristics of agents (preferences, bounded rationality, opportunism, risk aversion, trust); transactions costs associated with ecosystem services and their critical factors (uncertainty, frequency, asset specificity, appropriability); comparative efficiency of market, private, public, and hybrid modes of governance. Second, we identify the spectrum of market and private forms of governance of agro-ecosystem services (voluntary initiatives; market trade with eco-products; special contracts; collective actions; vertical integration), and evaluate their efficiency and potential. Next, we identify needs for public involvement in agro-ecosystem services, and assess comparative efficiency of alternative modes of public interventions (assistance, regulations, funding, taxing, provision, partnership, property right modernization). Finally, we analyze structure and efficiency of the governance of agro-ecosystems services in Zapadna Stara Planina in Bulgaria. Postcommunist transition and EU integration brought about significant changes in the state and governance of agro-ecosystems services. Newly evolved market, private, and public governance led to significant improvement of part of the agro-ecosystems services, introducing modern eco-standards and public support, enhancing environmental stewardship, disintensifying production, recovering landscape and traditional productions, diversifying quality, products, and services. Simultaneously, novel governance is associated with some new challenges such as unsustainable exploitation, lost biodiversity, land degradation, and water and air contamination. Implementation of EU common policies would have no desired impact on agro-ecosystem services unless special measures are taken to improve management of public programs, and extend public support to dominating small-scale and subsistence farms.
In many regions in Western Europe the rural matrix is under high pressure because of land use fragmentation and environmental degradation. New frameworks and approaches are needed to revalue the rural matrix and stop its degradation. The Flemish Region of Belgium has a severely degraded environmental and ecological quality. Increasing environmental degradation in Flanders is mainly remediated by technical measures and infrastructure. Due to institutional fragmentation of competences in environmental management, there is a lack of integrated measures that improve environmental quality on multiple aspects, which often leads to inefficient or adverse policy initiatives. The ecosystem services (ES) approach can be a unifying concept, bringing together different environmental, social, and economic aspects. The potential of landscape management and planning for ecosystem service generation needs to be recognized as a true option to reach both environmental and societal policy objectives at different scales . We use the “ecosystem service approach” as an umbrella concept to advocate for the creation or restoration of functional ecosystems as a cost-efficient and multipurpose strategy to improve environmental quality. The identification and quantification of hidden demands for ecosystem services is confronted with potential ecosystem services creation, based on hydro-geomorphologic suitability. The aim of this methodological framework is to develop an adequate scientific basis to contribute to a policy-relevant strategy for ecosystem services research in Belgium as part of the overall policy of sustainable development. A framework is presented that aims to (a) overcome the policy-science gap by presenting the ecosystem approach as an alternative for the increasing cost and failure of traditional environmental management; (b) identify and map potential ES; (c) quantify the potential delivery of ES by use of conceptual models that account for the spatial and temporal variability within a landscape context as ecosystems generate and receive fluxes from surrounding land-use; and (d) develop a policy support tool that allows optimal geographical implementation of ES generation. The proposed methodological framework will be further elaborated and implemented through a Strategic Basic Research project, funded by the Flemish Institute for Science and Technology.
The role of the atmosphere in contributing to ecosystem services and human well-being is discussed with examples at the local and regional scale, but also some implications at the global scale. The way the atmosphere interacts and supports our ecosystems is not always readily apparent, especially in dryland regions. Selected examples are presented using rain and dew in coastal arid to Mediterranean regions. The Negev desert of Israel was chosen to illustrate aspects of rain and dew, with Jerusalem as an example of urban dew collecting. A bibliographic search of journal articles with the term “ecosystem service(s)” in their titles or abstracts revealed that 60 percent of all such publications appeared between 2007-2009 and that, overall, 90 percent of the journal titles were in the sciences. Only a handful of publications focused on the atmosphere.
The U.S. military is entrusted with stewardship of a diversity of natural resources on over 30 million acres throughout the United States. Beginning in 1960 with passage of the Sikes Act, the military established natural resources management programs based on multiple use and sustained yield. Protection of single species regulated under the Endangered Species Act grew more important in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s, military policy makers and field personnel recognized a need to adopt a new management approach. Ecosystem management was adopted as a process for making, implementing, and evaluating decisions affecting the management of natural resources. This approach was implemented with new policy directives, partnering with government and nongovernment agencies, and an emphasis on biodiversity conservation. The ecosystem approach ensures the sustainability of natural resources and supports the Army’s triple bottom line: mission, environment, and community. This paper traces the history of conservation stewardship in the military and the evolution of ecosystem management on military lands. The approach could serve as the basis of a nascent ecosystem services methodology.
Human pressures on the natural resources of the United States have resulted in many unintended changes in our ecosystems, e.g., loss of biodiversity, habitat degradation, increases in the number of endangered species, and increases in contamination and water pollution. Environmental managers are concerned about broad-scale changes in land use and landscape pattern and their cumulative impact on hydrologic and ecological processes that affect stream conditions. The type of land use and land cover has direct consequences for most ecosystem services, including water quantity and water quality, erosion control, and biodiversity. As human pressure continues to increase, ecosystem services worldwide are projected to suffer continued loss and degradation, thus reducing the capacity of ecosystems to provide essential goods and services that contribute to human well-being . The ability to assess, report, and forecast the life support functions of ecosystems is absolutely critical to our capacity to make informed decisions that will maintain the sustainable nature of our environment and secure these resources into the future. This study presents an integrated approach to identify areas with potential water quality problems as a result of land cover change projected by stakeholders within a moderately large river basin in the Pacific Northwest (USA). A process-based hydrologic watershed model was used to examine the contribution of land use/land cover to sediment yield, and nitrate and phosphorus loadings, and identify subwatersheds within the Willamette River Basin that would be most affected in the year 2050 relative to three possible future scenarios, which include inherent differences related to conservation, existing planning trends, and open development. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of alternative future scenarios that describe varying degrees of urban development and human use on hydrological response related to water quality. Results of this study suggest that the amount of forest along streams and agriculture consistently explained a high percentage of variation in nutrients. The AGWA-SWAT model was used to simulate change in sediment yield, nitrate and phosphorus transported with surface runoff for the three future scenarios. With regard to nitrate, the greatest increase was associated with subwatersheds with agricultural land use and urban areas. Although the model predicted some improvement in basin headwaters for all scenarios, nitrate loadings are expected to decrease under the conservation scenario. The largest decrease was observed in the Coast Range. With regard to phosphorus loadings, the greatest reduction was observed in subwatersheds draining predominantly forest areas. The greatest increase was observed under the open development scenario in subwatersheds with agricultural land use. Urbanization and agriculture are presumed to be the major environmental stressors affecting watershed condition of the Willamette River Basin.
A regional environmental movement reaches across Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian political and geographic boundaries. This chapter describes the structure, outlook, achievements, and challenges of several regional environmental civil society initiatives that have been active since the 1990s: the water and environment department of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Particular attention is paid to the challenge of frame alignment. Dominant nationalist discourses in the region do not align well with a discourse of a fragile ecosystem that requires robust regional institutions. On the other hand, a discourse of regional ecosystem fragility aligns well with the discourses of sustainable development and of a global and regional environmental crisis in which the Eastern Mediterranean will be particularly harshly impacted by climate change.
Given the plethora of environmental and other nonmilitary threats facing the Western Balkans, the main argument advanced in the following paper is to foster the linkages between human security and environment in such a way as to broaden conceptualization of security threats and risks. It is now clear that the environmental consequences of the Western Balkans conflict have caused much damage to poor peoples, and thus policy recommendations should focus on human security and vulnerability, together with the potential of environmental degradation causing overt large-scale violence. How well prepared are the Western Balkan states to deal with such threats as their common problems? Are they doomed to ask for external help from international organizations in order to reach any cooperation on these issues at all?
One of the most pressing of ecosociological concerns is the search for ways in which to engage the public in the monitoring and debate about global climate change. Phenology, the study of the appearance or seasonal timing of natural events such as flowering, migration, and reproduction, is rapidly emerging as an important tool for fostering environmental awareness and participation. Increasingly, professionals are turning to the diaries of 18th and 19th century amateur phenologists in an attempt to gauge biological trends of our modern warming world and at the same time are encouraging groups of contemporary citizen “scientists” to continue undertaking such measurements. This chapter will review and critically comment on these approaches from both a scientific and sociological perspective and offer an expanded view about what might constitute an “ecosystem service” for human welfare.
A methodology for the integral estimation of population health and the environment, based on the toxico-mutagenic background, has been developed. This methodology of socio-ecological monitoring, with the use of high-sensitivity cytogenetic methods of bio-indication, has been tested in one of the most anthropogenically loaded regions of Ukraine, the Dnepropetrovsk region, with the purpose of defining the dependence of changes in human health on the contamination level of the land. The levels of environmental hazard to humans and biota in the areas of mining-industrial production have been determined. The presented methodology allows the visualization of the collected data by means of medical-ecological maps and a comparison with other ecological characteristics. The data obtained form the basis for the acceptance of administrative decisions on improving population health and the environment.
Environmental processes support human well-being by a number of goods and services, commonly referred to as ecosystem services. Since these services are not included in market prices, suboptimal decisions (e.g., on land use systems) result. An analysis of the trade-offs between market goods and ecosystem services can be used to achieve better-informed decisions. Including biophysical process into the trade-off analysis allows for a greater flexibility as well as for an increased reliability of the results of these trade-off analyses. We introduce the most important concepts of environmental modeling and show how these concepts can be used to study ecosystem service trade-offs using the example of an agricultural watershed in southern Maryland, USA. We study how land use can be optimized for this region. The multifunctionality of the landscape is reflected in multidimensional performance criterion based on crop yield, fertilization costs, and water quality issues. We varied the shadow prices for water quality and studied the effects on optimal land use patterns. In a second step, we analyzed trade-offs between crop yield, water quality, and other ecosystem services. The results indicate nonlinearity in some of the trade-offs.
This paper discusses the role of ecological systems and manmade physical infrastructure in provisioning services and human welfare. The first section discusses concepts of human welfare, human development, environmental security, quality of life, and ecosystem services. The author discusses how these concepts interact and integrates them to lay the foundation for further analysis. The paper reviews ecosystems and manmade infrastructure characteristics, as well as characteristics of their services. Further analysis reveals a general trend that manmade infrastructure substitutes ecosystem services in line with human development and technological progress. The author draws on some examples, which show ecosystem deterioration and inability to provide as many services as needed, dense consumption of infrastructure services in urban areas, and an emerging trend of artificial development of ecosystems to provide services of a better quality. The author thinks that comparative analysis of efficiency in services provision by ecosystems and infrastructure remains an important open research question.
Continuous environmental pollution, as well as uncontrolled or excessive exhaustion of natural resources and their corresponding risks to human health, safety, security and environment, present great challenges to modern societies. Consequently, innovative and responsible community actions are crucial for achieving environmental security. Effective policy, strategy and measures to control and reduce environmental pollution and preservation of natural resources and ecosystems are of paramount concern in the development process and are synonymous with the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, the achievement of these goals will to a large extent depend on changing the behaviors of individuals, as well as whole societies. With increasing levels of personal and social responsibility, it is the research, development and application of innovative technology and new knowledge that present critical circumstances and tools and that are at the same time the key driving forces significantly contributing to achieving environmental security. Science and innovation will primarily enable a reliable and timely recognition, better understanding and effective reduction of environmental and health risks associated with pollution. On the one hand, this awareness will help in assisting all individuals to reach well-informed decisions about their behavioral choices; the other hand, it may be helpful in recognizing and understanding the importance of challenges and opportunities for ecologically conscious business decisions. Environmental issues are not recognized as a foremost priority in developing countries. Therefore, the scientific community has to accept a full responsibility to act as a leader in building and strengthening the institutional framework by defining the environmental security research priorities as well as initiating, mobilizing, and actively participating in creation and adoption of innovative solutions. It must also aim at raising the general level of knowledge and ethical responsibility within our societies, which will in return enable and encourage policy, science and social dialogue to meet the goals of sustainable development. The challenge may be great, but it is also essential and all the more exciting for it.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
The authors present the evolution and current state-of-the-science, with respect to satellite remote sensing and its diverse applications to ecosystems services and ecosystems sustainability. Ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity are continuously threatened by biogenic and anthropogenic impacts. Remote sensing is but one array of tools, in combination with in situ sensing, laboratory analysis, and computer-based modeling techniques, that can serve to elucidate the spatial, temporal, and spectral characteristics of lacustrine, riverine, palustrine, and oceanic water resources, vegetation (e.g., agriculture, forests, rangeland), urban environments, as well as habitats both for benign species and for infectious disease vectors. The authors also address the role of real-time satellite remote sensing for time-critical ecological challenges and offer developing exemplars, such as the NATO Science for Peace supported Kamal Ewida Earth Observatory in Egypt, the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute (KOERI) in Turkey, and the Purdue Terrestrial Observatory in the Midwest United States, as well as grassroots comprehensive approaches to environmental sustainability, such as COSUAM de Puerto Rico.
In recent years the rapid development of a number of technologies used for data acquisition, processing, management, and transmission of Geospatial Information (GI), has substantially transformed how experts and common people deal with geospatial data. The capability to access geospatial information of various natures, including earth observation data, sensor data, and data stored in geospatial repositories, at increasing frequency and at relatively low cost, as well as the mass diffusion of localization technologies is in fact causing a profound technological and cultural revolution. This chapter illustrates how the new generation of geospatial technologies and Location Based Services (LBSs) can be extremely beneficial to ecosystem services and human welfare. The analysis is carried out in the context of two scenarios, selected for their significant relevance with the overall rationale of the volume, presenting the advantages brought in two different and complementary contexts such as environmental management and reduction of CO2 emissions.
When all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, any matter that prevents access by the consumer to foodstuffs will be a security issue. This will range in severity from lack of access to foods of choice through starvation from no access at all. Depending on the structure of food delivery (e.g. just in time) any interruption in that supply can quickly become an emergency, or appear as one. Practically, as a result of globalization and technical innovations food has no borders, and the global food chain is highly vulnerable to attack. In addition there is no specific targeting information indicating that attack on food supply is imminent and manuals for intentional contamination of food are widely available; therefore a concern exists for exploitation of soft targets, such as the food chain. On the other hand, climate change is expected to create difficulties in feeding growing populations as land degradation—as a result of flooding, drought, soil erosion and poor land management practices—will lead to a loss of arable land, and there will also be a decline or geographical shift in other food sources. Taking into account the mass usage of water (70 percent worldwide used for agriculture), water shortages seem likely to create tension in some regions of the world especially where several countries rely on the same water sources. In that sense, food insecurity is a massive current and future problem that should be handled globally and nationally. As a result, rises in protests aimed at governments over inadequate policy changes or aimed at corporations over environmental damage should probably be expected. On the fringes of social and environmental movements there are always those who will resort to violence and sabotage, namely eco-terrorism. Overall, it would not be wrong to assume that these will somehow lead to an increase in international terrorism. In order to take the necessary protective and response measures, which may have to be taken to reduce the risk and mitigate the consequences of these threats it is necessary to determine the vulnerability components for protecting ecosystems. This chapter will include the above-mentioned topics from the scope of risk analysis, benefits, and trust with implications. In this respect the consumer perception(s) of food chain security hazards will be detailed focusing on risk communication in the field of food security.
Building construction and operation have an enormous direct and indirect impact on the environment. While the definition of what constitutes sustainable building design is constantly changing, there are fundamental principles that nearly everyone agrees on: Optimize energy use, protect and conserve water, use environmentally preferable products, optimize operational and maintenance practices, and last but not least enhance indoor environmental quality. Going through a checklist obviously does not replace good design. However, a good designer will use the tools available to him or her appropriately, including energy and daylight modeling, thermal comfort analysis, experience, intuition, etc., to determine how they are best used to serve the purpose of re-integrating our built environment and ourselves with nature. Our intent in this paper is to focus on daylight modeling in buildings since it has always been difficult for practitioners and specially architects to handle this constantly changing dimension. Indeed, daylight moves, changes character, and varies with the weather. As an ecosystem service, it can provide buildings a living quality unachievable with any other design element and is a powerful vehicle of architectural expression.
Ecosystem services engages support among people, especially policy- and decision-makers, for the recognition that human welfare, prosperity, security, and well-being are intrinsically linked to the health of the environment. As our Earth’s population increases and a changing environment creates change in our natural and social habitats, we see changes in attributes of our most critical resource, such as availability and quality of water supplies. We propose exploring institutional policy, infrastructure, human behavior, and social processes relative to water supply, allocation, and delivery for human use. This theme and our interdisciplinary approach offer unprecedented opportunity to elicit new information that could have important bearing on environmental security.