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Towards a Sustainable Society

Considerations from a Natural Science Perspective

Frans W. Saris

convinced we can feed ten billion mouths (WUR n.d.), but how we feed the world without devouring the planet is a demanding issue that will be addressed in the section “Biodiversity and Food.” Can we mitigate the energy and climate crisis as well as the food

Open access

A Crystal Ball for Forests?

Analyzing the Social-Ecological Impacts of Forest Conservation and Management over the Long Term

Daniel C. Miller, Pushpendra Rana, and Catherine Benson Wahlén

questions through a review of the broad interdisciplinary literature that assesses forest conservation and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It focuses particular

Open access

Green Out of the Blue, or How (Not) to Deal with Overfed Oceans

An Analytical Review of Coastal Eutrophication and Social Conflict

Alix Levain, Carole Barthélémy, Magalie Bourblanc, Jean-Marc Douguet, Agathe Euzen, and Yves Souchon

Despite harmful local consequences on coastal communities and biodiversity for many decades, eutrophication of marine systems due to high levels of nutrient loading of human origin has only recently gained public visibility ( Diaz and Rosenberg

Open access

Tim Cadman and Robert Hales

extremely difficult. The term “project” is often applied very loosely and may require no activity such as biodiversity conservation ( Campbell et al. 2018 ). Counting carbon twice (double-counting) is another issue confronting carbon markets, and while

Free access

Ka’ux

Mixe language and biodiversity loss in Oaxaca, Mexico

Alfonsina Arriaga-Jiménez, Citlali Pérez-Díaz, and Sebastian Pillitteri

English abstract: The community of Tlahuitoltepec, in the Sierra Mixe of Oaxaca, is losing Traditional Ecological Knowledge due to socially driven changes in its natural environment. Mixe is one of the 69 indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca, and is spoken almost exclusively in Tlahuitoltepec. Using an ethnographic approach, with loosely structured interviews among key members of the community, we analyzed the theory that biodiversity loss is linked to the loss of indigenous languages and traditional ecological knowledge. Our findings show that certain words in Mixe, used to refer to animals that are no longer observed in the community or its surroundings, are not well known by young people. The case of Ka’ux reflects what happens to traditional ecological knowledge and to an indigenous language when biodiversity is lost.

Spanish abstract: La comunidad de Tlahuitoltepec, en la Sierra Mixe de Oaxaca, pierde conocimiento ecológico tradicional debido a cambios sociales en su ambiente natural. El Mixe es una de las 69 lenguas indígenas habladas en Oaxaca, y es hablado casi exclusivamente en Tlahiutoltepec. Aplicando un enfoque etnográfico, con entrevistas semiestructuradas a miembros clave de la comunidad, analizamos la teoría sobre si la pérdida de biodiversidad se relaciona con la pérdida de lenguas indígenas y conocimiento ecológico tradicional. Nuestros resultados muestran que algunas palabras mixes usadas para nombrar animales que ya no se observan en la comunidad o sus alrededores, no son bien conocidas por la gente joven. El caso de Ka’ux refleja que ocurre con el conocimiento ecológico tradicional y a las lenguas indígenas cuando la biodiversidad desaparece.

French abstract: La communauté de Tlahuitoltepec, dans la Sierra mixe d’Oaxaca, perd ses connaissances écologiques traditionnelles en raison de changements sociaux dans son environnement naturel. Le mixe est l’une des soixante-neuf langues indigènes parlées à Oaxaca et elle est parlée presque exclusivement à Tlahuitoltepec. En utilisant une approche ethnographique, avec des entretiens semi-structurés parmi les membres clés de la communauté, nous avons analysé la théorie selon laquelle la biodiversité est liée à la perte des langues autochtones et des connaissances écologiques traditionnelles. Nos résultats montrent que certains mots en mixe utilisés pour désigner des animaux qui ne sont plus observés dans la communauté ou ses environs ne sont pas bien connus des jeunes. Le cas de Ka’ux reflète l’impact de la perte de biodiversité sur les connaissances écologiques traditionnelles et sur une langue autochtone.

Free access

Introduction

A New Journal for Contemporary Environmental Challenges

Paige West, Dan Brockington, Jamon Halvaksz, and Michael Cepek

Social scientists have been writing about the relationships between people and their surroundings for as long as there has been social scientific inquiry. Fields such as anthropology, economics, history, human geography, law, political science, psychology, and sociology all have long and rich histories of contributing to and pioneering socio-environmental analysis. However, the past 20 years have seen a proliferation of scholarship in the social sciences that is focused on environmental issues. This is due, in part, to changes in our environment that have profound implications for the future of both human society and the environment. It is also due, in part, to the ways in which environmental practitioners have portrayed the causes of these changes. In the 1970s, social scientists, concerned with the ways in which the causes of environmental changes were being attributed to some peoples and not others, felt that their knowledge of social processes and social systems could shed light on these issues (see Blaikie and Brookfield 1987). They thought that the methods and theories of the social sciences could and should be brought to bear on questions about contemporary environmental changes. Climate change, the water crisis, deforestation, desertification, biodiversity loss, the energy crisis, nascent resource wars, environmental refugees, and environmental justice are just some of the many compelling challenges facing society today that were identified by these early scholars as sites in need of social scientific analysis.

Free access

Paul H. Gobster

What does ecological restoration mean in an urban context? More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and in response to the dynamic patterns of urbanization, a growing number of ecologists, land managers, and volunteers are focusing their efforts in and around cities to restore remnants of natural diversity (Ingram 2008). Ecological restoration is still a quite youthful field, yet many scientists and practitioners hold a relatively fixed set of criteria for what defines a successful restoration project, irrespective of where sites are located. Among the criteria commonly stated, sites should be composed of indigenous species, have a structure and diversity characteristic of currently undisturbed or historically documented “reference” sites, and be maintained through ecological processes such as fire that ensure long-term sustainability with minimal human assistance (Ruiz-Jaén and Aide 2005; SER International 2004). Application of these criteria has led to many ecologically successful restorations, but some ecologists in the field have begun to question whether the same standards can be realistically applied to sites such as those within urban areas that have been radically altered by past human activity (e.g., Martínez and López-Barerra 2008) or are being influenced by novel conditions that result in unpredictable trajectories (Choi 2007). Perhaps more significantly, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the broader viability of restoration projects, especially those in urban areas, hinges on how socially successful they are in gaining public acceptance for restoration activities and practices, building constituencies to assist with implementation and maintenance, and addressing a broader set of sustainability goals that reach beyond the protection of native biodiversity (e.g., Choi et al. 2008; Hobbs 2007; Rosenzweig 2003).

Free access

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen and Harry J. G. Nijhuis

climate,” “biodiversity and food,” and “peace and security.” It is conceived from a natural scientific perspective, but concludes with a plea for new scientific approaches. These articles discuss critical and complex problems that are of real concern to

Free access

Dan Brockington

required to meet climate change targets or prevent biodiversity loss, the formulation of indicators to track progress to meet the targets set for the Sustainable Development Goals, concern about the return of high levels of inequality, or crises in the

Open access

Humanosphere Potentiality Index

Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective

Takahiro Sato, Mario Ivan López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi, and Kazuo Watanabe

recognizes both present and future risks of global warming and biodiversity loss ( IPCC 2013 , 2014 ; MEA 2005 ). Increasingly, research on global environmental changes has been accompanied by calls for profound societal change ( ISSC 2016 ), and for future