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Keune H.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Keune H.,University of Antwerp | Keune H.,University of Namur | Kretsch C.,Co Operation on Health and Biodiversity COHAB | And 23 more authors.
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2013

Internationally, the importance of a coordinated effort to protect both biodiversity and public health is more and more recognized. These issues are often concentrated or particularly challenging in urban areas, and therefore on-going urbanization worldwide raises particular issues both for the conservation of living natural resources and for population health strategies. These challenges include significant difficulties associated with sustainable management of urban ecosystems, urban development planning, social cohesion and public health. An important element of the challenge is the need to interface between different forms of knowledge and different actors from science and policy. We illustrate this with examples from Belgium, showcasing concrete cases of human-nature interaction. To better tackle these challenges, since 2011, actors in science, policy and the broader Belgian society have launched a number of initiatives to deal in a more integrated manner with combined biodiversity and public health challenges in the face of ongoing urbanization. This emerging community of practice in Belgium exemplifies the importance of interfacing at different levels. (1) Bridges must be built between science and the complex biodiversity/ecosystem-human/public health-urbanization phenomena. (2) Bridges between different professional communities and disciplines are urgently needed. (3) Closer collaboration between science and policy, and between science and societal practice is needed. Moreover, within each of these communities closer collaboration between specialized sections is needed. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Keune H.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform and Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Dendoncker N.,University of Namur | Popa F.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform and Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Sander J.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | And 18 more authors.
Ecosystem Services | Year: 2015

In this paper we will focus on how governance issues are being dealt with in the BElgium Ecosystem Services (BEES) Community of Practice and on some Belgian Ecosystem Services (ES) research projects aimed at policy or practice support. As ES governance is still mainly an aspect of policy or practice oriented research, we will specifically focus on method and methodological decision making. The system or systems we aim to govern are complex. But also the governance processes are inherently complex. How do we take this complexity into account in decision support? Do we acknowledge complexity in our approach or do we drastically simplify and reduce it to relatively simple proportions? The methodological approach of decision support methods is open for debate as neither crystal clear nor undisputed yardsticks for best practices exist. On an ambition level, BEES members generally seem to prefer transdisciplinary as well as inclusive valuation approaches, though not exclusively in all circumstances. In Belgium research projects, similar to the developments within BEES, from a research practice dominated by scientists, gradually research processes are opening up to transdisciplinary collaboration. Simultaneously these processes gradually shift from mainly top down approaches to bottom up approaches or hybrid combinations of both entry points. A closer and more nuanced view shows that real transdisciplinary collaboration in Belgian ES research still is only at the beginning. Partly this can be explained by the fact that inter- and transdisciplinary approaches are perhaps more realistic, but also have to deal with more social complexity. New balances have to be found between sophistication and pragmatics. Also the role of science can become more ambiguous: the closer to stakeholders, the more an independent role can be questioned. Regarding ES valuation methods, in general a trend towards more inclusive valuation is clearly noticeable in Belgian ES research, inclusive in the sense of a diversity of ES valuation aspects to be taken into account, diverse types of expression of value(s), a combination of quantifiable and qualitative information, and a diversity of valuators by way of more bottom-up approaches. Still, there are quite some differences between projects and challenges for integration. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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