Building with Nature

Managing catchments by researching historical changes

05 July 2018 - Published by Eric Boessenkool
River catchments have been subjected to human adaptations for centuries. These often had to do with the delivery of tangible benefits, such as the supply of food and water. More recently, however, more and more demands have been made on catchments to achieve more benefits. A paper has been published which researches historical changes in ecosystem services (ESs) to describe options for management in catchments.

Managing catchments to meet more demands is challenging. This is due to the need to integrate the understanding of both ecological systems (on the supply side) and social systems (on the demand side). With an increased interest in the concept of ESs as a result.

Historical aerial photographs
The paper in the International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management examines a spatio-temporal change assessment of ESs with multiple priorities in two predominantly rural catchments in the Borders area in southern Scotland. For this purpose, historical aerial photographs of surveys from the 1940s are used, in combination with recent habitat charts and ES mapping.

Providing baselines
The research areas are human-dominated and dynamic, including agriculture and forestry as important land use. It is claimed that understanding historical changes in ESs adds an important element in providing baselines to describe options for current and future management in catchments.

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