This project, using an ecosystem approach, aims to contribute to the growing multidisciplinary research field addressing dynamics and feedback mechanisms in integrated social-ecological systems in order to move towards a more sustainable development. In this project, we focus on forest and fish resources in the Baltic Sea drainage Basin, in particular how shifting user patterns affect ecosystem services, but also our knowledge and understanding of the dynamic ecosystem and hence possibility to adapt to changes and prevent destructive changes.
Ecosystems provide an array of goods and services critical for sustaining human societies. Changes in user patterns and ecosystems can be derived from ecological as well as from socio-economic drivers. Even if the direct causes of ecosystem change (e.g. eutrophication being directly caused by increase of nutrient levels) belong in the domain of natural sciences, the underlying causes of change, the legal, social, and cultural factors that direct human behaviour rest in the domain of economics and social sciences.
Ecosystem management approaches building on a holistic view of the integrated human-nature system are increasingly suggested as a basic management framework in international and national policies. An ecosystem approach focuses on maintaining functioning ecological systems to secure the flow of a range of ecosystem goods and services important for human well-being. Thus, an ecosystem approach would stress that there cannot be a supply of renewable resources, such as fish, without functioning ecosystems to produce them.
The project is organized as a serie of partly comparative case studies and combines ecological/geographic analyses of selected local and regional areas with studies of the institutional framework, especially focusing on property and user rights and on local ecological knowledge as it is expressed in management practices and use of different indicators.