Identifying barriers, conflict and opportunity in managing aquatic ecosystems

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Robinson, L. A.
Blincow, H. L.
Culhane, F. E.
O'Higgins, Tim
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Elsevier B.V.
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Inland aquatic ecosystems play an important part in the delivery and support of ecosystem services. However, these ecosystems are subject to stressors associated with human activities such as invasive species introduction and landscape alteration. There is a delicate balance between maintaining good status of the ecosystem whilst meeting the needs of those stakeholders dependent on the ecosystem services it supplies, and where there are many different stakeholders, each with different aspirations and dependencies on the ecosystem, it can be difficult to strike a balance on suitable management measures to put in place. A better understanding of the interactions between the human and ecological functions of the ecosystem (a socio-ecological systems (SES) approach) can enable an effective dialogue to be opened to secure management solutions of best fit. In this study we took a SES approach to explore the dependencies and interactions in the Lough Erne catchment with a range of stakeholders representing the use of the Lough. In particular, we explored how individual stakeholder goals were perceived to be affected by both the biodiversity and activities found in the catchment. Results suggest there are distinct components deemed integral to the success of stakeholder goals in this system, including ‘key habitat components’ and ‘policy relevant species’, as well as activities associated with ‘conservation and recreation’ and ‘scientific research’. Those components which were seen to limit the potential achievement of most goals included invasive species, and in particular, more recently introduced invasives, as well as extractive industries. Consideration of the similarity in goals based on their perceived interactions with the activities and biodiversity of the system indicated that there were shared dependencies between some stakeholders, but also differences that highlight the potential for conflict. Future management scenarios should take consideration of the key limiting and enabling factors identified here.
Socio-ecological system , Freshwater , Biodiversity , Human activities , Modularity
Robinson, L.A., Blincow, H.L., Culhane, F.E. and O'Higgins, T., 2019. Identifying barriers, conflict and opportunity in managing aquatic ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment, 651.(11pp). DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.020