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Understanding expert and public perceptions of ecosystem services in the Portneuf Watershed, Idaho: Lessons for environmental planning
Department: Biology
Specimen Elements
Unknown to Unknown
Scott Greeves
Idaho State University
City: Pocatello
Globally, human activities are transforming landscapes through habitat fragmentation, degradation and removal, creating new anthropogenic habitats. However, as natural landscapes are degraded or lost, their capacity to provide ecosystem services, which underpin human wellbeing and societal functioning, is commonly distorted and reduced. Socio-ecological systems (SES) research represents one methodology to tackle the impacts of global change drivers (such as land-use change or climate change), providing a holistic framework for environmental management. SES science conceptualizes the environment as an interconnected open system comprised of ecological and social processes. SES research reframes environmental issues as social-ecological issues, investigating and highlighting how better management of ecosystem services(ESS)can improve social-ecological resilience and associated human wellbeing linkages. Applying SES research to smaller scale, place-based studies, is gaining traction and has been praised for fostering the co-production of knowledge and environmental management solutions between related local stakeholders. In this case study of a semi-arid watershed in southeastern Idaho, we used a questionnaire to conduct a social assessment of ecosystem services, to investigate and compare expert and public perceptions and seek lessons for environmental planning. x Our results indicated a nuanced relationship between expert and public perceptions of ESS, with the expert and public groups reporting remarkably similar perceptions in some instances but starkly different perceptions in others. In our study, the expert group that reported ESS provide greater contributions to human wellbeing compared to the public group. However, our results indicated that expert and public perceptions of which ESS are most important to human wellbeing, how ESS have changed over the last decade, and the impact of four hypothetical land-use change scenarios on ESS, were unexpectedly similar. We discuss the implication of these results both locally and beyond, and highlight the importance of such findings to be translated into a policy narrative. Key Words –Ecosystem Services, Social-Ecological Systems, Place-Based, Case Study, Policy Narrative, Expert, Public

Understanding expert and public perceptions of ecosystem services in the Portneuf Watershed, Idaho: Lessons for environmental planning

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