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Reyers B.,Natural Environment Research Council | Roux D.J.,Water Research Node | Cowling R.M.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Ginsburg A.E.,Prime Africa Research Consultants | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

Despite substantial growth in the field of conservation planning, the speed and success with which conservation plans are converted into conservation action remains limited. This gap between science and action extends beyond conservation planning into many other applied sciences and has been linked to complexity of current societal problems, compartmentalization of knowledge and management sectors, and limited collaboration between scientists and decision makers. Transdisciplinary approaches have been proposed as a possible way to address these challenges and to bridge the gap between science and action. These approaches move beyond the bridging of disciplines to an approach in which science becomes a social process resolving problems through the participation and mutual learning of stakeholders. We explored the principles of transdisciplinarity, in light of our experiences as conservation-planning researchers working in South Africa, to better understand what is required to make conservation planning transdisciplinary and therefore more effective. Using the transdisciplinary hierarchy of knowledge (empirical, pragmatic, normative, and purposive), we found that conservation planning has succeeded in integrating many empirical disciplines into the pragmatic stakeholder-engaged process of strategy development and implementation. Nevertheless, challenges remain in engagement of the social sciences and in understanding the social context of implementation. Farther up this knowledge hierarchy, at the normative and purposive levels, we found that a lack of integrated land-use planning and policies (normative) and the dominant effect of national values (purposive) that prioritize growth and development limit the effectiveness and relevance of conservation plans. The transdisciplinary hierarchy of knowledge highlighted that we need to move beyond bridging the empirical and pragmatic disciplines into the complex normative world of laws, policies, and planning and become engaged in the purposive processes of decision making, behavior change, and value transfer. Although there are indications of progress in this direction, working at the normative and purposive levels requires time, leadership, resources, skills that are absent in conservation training and practice, and new forms of recognition in systems of scientific reward and funding. ©2010 Society for Conservation Biology. Source


Nel J.L.,South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research | Reyers B.,South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research | Roux D.J.,Water Research Node | Dean Impson N.,CapeNature | Cowling R.M.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Freshwater Biology | Year: 2011

1. The progression of approaches in systematic conservation planning from representation to representation and persistence has greatly enhanced its potential applicability to freshwaters. However, conceptual frameworks that consolidate principles for incorporating persistence into freshwater conservation planning are still lacking.2. We present four key principles to consider when planning for the persistence of freshwater biodiversity: selecting ecosystems of high ecological integrity; incorporating connectivity; incorporating areas important to population persistence; and identifying additional natural processes that can be mapped.3. The practicalities of gathering data and conducting the conservation plan to address these principles are explored here using a case study in the Olifants/Doorn Water Management Area, South Africa. Spatial layers are developed for depicting ecological integrity, sub-catchment boundaries, riparian zones and wetlands, high water-yield areas and patterns of groundwater discharge and recharge.4. These data are used to develop a conservation area network that supports both representation and persistence of freshwater biodiversity. Although the planning region is relatively data rich by global standards, several data deficiencies were identified. We suggest ways of using environmental surrogates to address data deficiencies, improving confidence in these surrogates by combining them wherever possible with existing field data and expert knowledge.5. We also recommend methods to achieve spatial efficiency by simultaneously designing for representation and persistence of freshwater biodiversity. Spatial efficiency can be achieved in different ways when using a conservation planning algorithm and a multiple-use zoning strategy.6. The allocation of multiple-use zones aligns closely with the objectives of integrated water resources management and land use planning. Given the practicalities at local levels of planning, we recommend using multiple-use zones in the design phase, rather than merely at the end once the design is complete. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source


Roux D.J.,Water Research Node | Stirzaker R.J.,CSIRO | Breen C.M.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | Lefroy E.C.,University of Tasmania | Cresswell H.P.,CSIRO
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2010

In response to the increasingly complex social-ecological issues facing society, there is a growing trend to conduct environmental research in large collaborative programs. This approach is described as transdisciplinary research as it transcends formal disciplinary boundaries, explicitly acknowledges that many different perspectives are relevant to the resolution of complex problems, and actively involves the users of research. This poses challenges for the evaluation of "impact" as any evaluation process must take into consideration the different expectations, values, culture, language and reward structures of the main participating groups, the funders, researchers and end users. How can these participating groups learn about the progress of a transdisciplinary research program in a way that is purposeful and structured, continues through the life of the program, and includes explicit feedback mechanisms that facilitate adaptation during the course of the program? This paper presents a framework for co-reflecting on the accomplishment of transdisciplinary research programs. The framework incorporates the perspectives of funders, researchers and users, and recognizes that while they place different emphasis on measures of achievement such as efficiency, rigor and relevance, ultimate accomplishment in terms of translating knowledge into practice requires that the needs and expectations of all three groups are adequately addressed. What emerges from the framework is the importance of early investment in processes, behaviors and relationships that foster social learning and the co-production of the knowledge and understanding that are required to ensure relevance; while maintaining emphasis in the traditional areas of formally testing evidence and mentoring young researchers to ensure rigor and build confidence and capacity in transdisciplinary approaches. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Roux D.J.,Scientific Services | Roux D.J.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Roux D.J.,Water Research Node | Nel J.L.,South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Water SA | Year: 2013

Since the 1970s, at approximately 10-year intervals, 4 national-scale freshwater conservation plans have been developed for South Africa. These 4 plans reflect different but broadly advancing approaches to conservation planning. We provide an overview of 3 historical plans and a more detailed discussion of the most recent plan which is based on a systematic approach. The main principles of systematic conservation planning, namely, to achieve representation, persistence and efficiency, are introduced. We then describe how these principles were used to develop National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Areas (FEPAs) for the whole of South Africa. A strong implementation orientation influenced the development of FEPAs. End users were engaged throughout the planning process and map products were designed with user needs as well as relevant policy and legal contexts in mind. We believe that the process that was followed in developing FEPAs marks a new level of implementation-driven planning. Remaining constraints to effective implementation now lie mainly on the side of the receiving environment - i.e. the operating environments of those agencies with mandates to manage and conserve freshwater ecosystems. To this end we highlight 4 potential catalysts for effective implementation in the receiving environment, namely, absorptive capacity, multi-party cooperation, science extension and adaptive management. We conclude by calling for a new and broad research initiative linked to implementing FEPAs. Source


Reyers B.,Natural Environment Research Council | Roux D.J.,Water Research Node | O'Farrell P.J.,Natural Environment Research Council
Environmental Conservation | Year: 2010

The discipline of ecology has evolved through several phases as it has developed and defined itself and its relationship with human society. While it initially had little to do with human concerns, it has become more applied, and is today more integrated with the human element in the way it conceptualizes complex social-ecological systems. As the science has developed, so too have its relationships with other disciplines, as well as people and processes outside the domain of science. However, it is unclear how far ecology has progressed in developing these relationships and where it should best focus its efforts in the future in order to increase its relevance and role in society. The concept of ecosystem services (the benefits people get from nature) has the potential to further this integration and clarify ecology's role and relevance in society, however doubt remains as to whether the concept has helped ecology in developing disciplinary and societal relationships. This review assesses the progress of ecology in relation to a transdisciplinary knowledge hierarchy (empirical, pragmatic, normative and purposive) where all levels of the hierarchy are coordinated on the basis of an overall purpose introduced from the purposive level down. At each of the levels of the knowledge hierarchy, the principles of transdisciplinarity, ecology's progress, the contribution of ecosystem services to this progress and future directions for a transdisciplinary ecology are explored. Ecology has made good progress in developing an interdisciplinary dialogue between the natural and social sciences and sectors. It is well-integrated with empirical and pragmatic disciplines and coordinates research at these two levels. At the normative level, the absence of collaborative frameworks and planning instruments is a major gap limiting the influence that ecology can have on land and resource use decisions at this level. At the purposive level, ecology has limited interactions with a narrow set of values associated with ecological ethics and economics. There is an obvious need for ecology to engage with the purposive disciplines of philosophy, ethics and theology, but also a need for ecological research to transform itself into a social process dealing with values and norms of both society and science. Ecosystem services have helped ecology to make links with many disciplines at the empirical and pragmatic levels, provided a useful concept and framework for interactions at the normative level requiring further examination, and helped make values explicit, allowing ecologists to begin to interact with the purposive level. The Western ecological economic origins of the ecosystem service concept presents a potential constraint to interactions at the purposive level, and must be considered and addressed if ecosystem services are to further the development of a transdisciplinary ecology, the joint ecology-society debate and the formulation and execution of policy. © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2010. Source

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