Modeling Climate, Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods to Identify Resilient Governance Systems - Linked Project

  
Investigator
Professor AJ Bebbington
Institution
The University of Manchester, Environment and Development
Start Date
1 July, 2010
End Date
31 December, 2010
NERC Ref
NE/I004432/1

This project is linked to project NE/I00260X/1, PI Dr D Wilkie

This project proposes to form a consortium of partners from the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Rwanda, Bolivia, Brazil and the United States to develop a research framework that will help fill knowledge gaps related to how climate change will impact provisioning and regulatory ecosystem services; how these changes might affect rural livelihoods; and how governance solutions can be developed to help manage those changes in countries of the Amazon and Sub-Saharan Africa.

This research will generate new data and understandings while building developing country capacity to design and implement policy relevant research on the impacts of climate change on ecosystem services and rural livelihoods. Our research will be conducted at four sites where the ecosystem services provided by forests and hydrological systems are highly interdependent ecologically and integral to local and, in most cases, national economies, and are at risk of major disruption from climate change. These sites include the Great Ruaha river landscape in Tanzania; the Nyungwe forest in Rwanda; the Madidi landscape of Bolivia; and the flooded (várzea) forest landscape in Mamiraua, Brazil. We will develop systems dynamic models of climate, ecosystem services and rural livelihoods in these landscapes, and combine these with participatory assessments of governance options, across a range of spatial and political scales. The models will acknowledge that regulatory and provisioning services are ecologically interdependent, which will permit an exploration of synergies and trade-offs in these ecosystem services under various management regimes. The role that hydrological systems and watershed management play in regulating flows of provisioning services is the common thread that binds these sites, however, the ecological and socio-political differences across sites will make the policy implications of research results broadly applicable to other locations in the Amazon and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Combined, the sites will allow us to speak to a variety of water-livelihood interactions related to fisheries, energy, agriculture, sanitation and tourism, and to a range of governance contexts. These are sites where the consortium's existing data bases and local relationships are especially well developed, allowing us to conduct both quantitative modeling and qualitative research with the greatest effectiveness and efficiency.

Through a series of informal preparatory meetings, consortium members and local partners will initiate a participatory process to design a research program to assess the impact of climate change on ecosystem services provision and local livelihoods. Through WebEx sessions, we will host virtual meetings to exchange ideas that will lay the foundation for a consortium planning workshop in Bolivia to consolidate the interdisciplinary team and identify research needs at each site. The workshop will produce a research program designed to identify major knowledge gaps in existing data and capacity building priorities and estimate the level of funding required to support the proposed research. This grant will enable us to develop a framework for building a cadre of researchers with the skills needed to assess climate change impacts on ecosystem services and rural livelihoods for informing policy makers. By working collaboratively across sites, the program will foster direct south-south exchange of skills and knowledge and build the collegial relationships needed for future joint research. Strengthening capacity to conduct policy relevant research is critical for guiding development decisions that enhance local and national resilience to ecological, economic and social shocks linked to climate change. As a result of this proposed program, our partners and their communities in developing nations will be better prepared to adapt to climate change and to manage ecosystem services for the benefit of the rural poor.