Title: Landscape Sensitivity, Resilience and Sustainable Watershed Management: A Co-evolutionary Perspective 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> report 
Country: EU Projects 
Year: 2002 
Availability: J. McGlade (2002) Discussion paper prepared for The AQUADAPT workshop, Montpellier October 25th-27th 2002 Landscape Sensitivity, Resilience and Sustainable Watershed Management: A Co-evolutionary Perspective 
Author 1/Producer: McGlade, J. 
Author / Producer Type: EC Project 
Report / download web link (=direct link): http://www.aquadapt.net/pdf/McGlade_-_Landscape_sensitivity. ...  
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Soil and groundwater processes-->Soil and groundwater processes overview
 
Long description: The conservation, and future sustainability of vulnerable fluvio-coastal environments, along with the need for viable planning criteria and policy instruments for their longterm management, are some of the central issues at the heart of the contemporary environmental discourse1. For example, in the Mediterranean, coastal, riverine and wetland areas are subject to increasing and unprecedented changes, as a consequence of human-induced processes, such as industrial activities, commercial harbour construction, land reclamation, drainage, canal construction and growing urban encroachments (Falkenmark and Lindh 1993; Breton 1996; Breton et al. 1996). But perhaps the single most important threat to sustainability is to be seen in the effects of a rapidly expanding tourist sector, along with its attendant hotel and service industries and their ever-growing demands for water – something particularly acute in semi-arid regions of Spain (Breton and Sauri 1997). What is most worrying about such a situation and one that has largely developed over the last 40 years, is that historically such developments have frequently occurred in the absence of adequate planning and environmental controls. Indeed, in many cases, land-use planning has been short-termist, and decisions have been retro-active; that is, they have been concerned with ‘sticking plaster’ or coping solutions, rather than the implementation of long-term adaptive management strategies. An inevitable consequence of this tradition of ad hoc policy-making – and particularly the encouragement of mass tourist developments - has been the dramatic increase in pollution, soil erosion, pressure on water consumption and general degradation of the environment including its cultural and natural heritage (Pearson and Sullivan 1995;McGlade 2001a). Indeed, in the semi-arid areas of the Mediterranean, particularly in the Middle East and Spain, water is even more of a critical commodity because of the extreme variations in rainfall and the ever-present threat of drought. Consequently there is a constant danger of conflict in river catchments and coastal regions where water supply and use is contested (Bulloch and Darwish 1993; Smith 1997). One of the most significant responses to this situation is to be seen in attempts to encourage the construction of integrated approaches to coastal zone and river basin management. These have stressed the need for coherent planning methods and cross-disciplinary approaches to data acquisition2. On the other hand, while much work has been devoted to the development of legislation and policy instruments within existing integrated coastal zone management schemes, nonetheless, they are often ineffective due to the lack of co-ordination between the various actors and institutions and their often conflicting world views. Moreover, the much-voiced support for crossdisciplinary cooperation is frequently not matched by practical action. Perhaps the most significant barrier to addressing these issues stems from a lack of holistic thinking at governmental and managerial levels. In essence, this is due to a low-level understanding of the nature of complexity and the nonlinear connectivities that structure socio-natural systems; for example, solutions are often sought in largescale decision-support systems models that generally are ill equipped to account for the levels of complexity involved, especially the array of power structures and counter-intuitive behaviours displayed by socio-political organizations, and/or the vested interests of individuals. In particular, there are frequently fundamental conflicts between those stakeholders focused on political and economic concepts of growth and others committed to approaches favouring conservation, the maintenance of biodiversity and local scale interventionist strategies. Significantly, these conflicts operate at local, regional, national and European scales and reflect fundamental differences in perception and value systems. Thus a crucial issue, for any conception of sustainable management, is the need to understand the socioenvironmental driving forces of change at different spatio-temporal scales. What this means is an ability to assess the resilience of socio-natural landscapes to a variety of human and naturally induced pressures - effectively, developing an understanding of the variable sensitivities of ecological, economic and socio-cultural processes, so as to anticipate likely future outcomes and possible unforeseen evolutionary trajectories. I address these issues by taking a critical look at the theoretical basis within which current research on socio-natural systems is undertaken, with specific relation to the current AQUADAPT initiative and its focus on river catchment systems. Specifically I shall focus on the relationships between resilience (as a manifestation of sustainability) and the notion of ‘landscape sensitivity’, assessing its potential usefulness as a theoretical construct that might contribute to a better understanding of watershed dynamics, in climatically marginal environments. 
Link to Project(s): AQUADAPT Strategic tools to support adaptive, integrated water resource management under changing utilisation conditions at catchment level: A co-evolutionary approach
 
Submitted By: Dr Stefan Gödeke WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 14/02/2006