Permafrost carbon feedback (PCF) modeling has focused on gradual thaw of near-surface permafrost leading to enhanced carbon dioxide and methane emissions that accelerate global climate warming. These state-of-the-art land models have yet to incorporate deeper, abrupt thaw in the PCF. Here we use model data, supported by field observations, radiocarbon dating, and remote sensing, to show that methane and carbon dioxide emissions from abrupt thaw beneath thermokarst lakes will more than double radiative forcing from circumpolar permafrost-soil carbon fluxes this century. Abrupt thaw lake emissions are similar under moderate and high representative concentration pathways (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), but their relative contribution to the PCF is much larger under the moderate warming scenario. Abrupt thaw accelerates mobilization of deeply frozen, ancient carbon, increasing 14C-depleted permafrost soil carbon emissions by ~125-190% compared to gradual thaw alone. These findings demonstrate the need to incorporate abrupt thaw processes in earth system models for more comprehensive projection of the PCF this century.
Humans and freshwater ecosystems have a long history of cohabitation. Today, nearly all major rivers of the world have an in-stream structure which changes water flow, substrate composition, vegetation, and fish assemblage composition. The realization of these effects and their subsequent impacts on population sustainability and conservation has led to a collective effort aimed to find ways to mitigate these impacts. Barrier removal has recently received greater interest as a potential solution to restore river connectivity, and reestablish high quality habitats, suitable for feeding, refuge and spawning of fish. In the present study, we present thirty years of data from electrofishing surveys obtained at two sites, both prior to and following the removal of a small-scale hydropower dam in Central Jutland, Denmark. We demonstrate that the dam removal has led to a dramatic increase in trout density, especially in young of the year. Surprisingly, we found that this increase was not just upstream of the barrier, where the ponded zone previously was, but also downstream of the barrier, despite little changes in habitat in that area. These findings suggest that barrier removal may be the soundest conservation option to reinstate fish population productivity.
This paper provides an overview of the emerging role of Aboriginal people in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Canada over the past decade. The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) provided guidance and recommendations for improving Aboriginal peoples' position in Canadian society, beginning with strengthening understanding and building relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal parties. This paper explores the extent to which advances in Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relationships and Aboriginal forestry have been made as a result of RCAP's call for renewed relationships based on co-existence among nations. Such changes have begun to alter the context in which Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relationships exist with respect to SFM. While governments themselves have generally not demonstrated the leadership called for by RCAP in taking up these challenges, industry and other partners are demonstrating some improvements. A degree of progress has been achieved in terms of lands and resources, particularly with co-management-type arrangements, but a fundamental re-structuring needed to reflect nation-to-nation relationships has not yet occurred. Other factors related to increasing Aboriginal participation in SFM, such as the recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights, are also highlighted, along with suggestions for moving Aboriginal peoples' SFM agenda forward in the coming years.
A small desk survey was conducted in the spring of 2004 to get an overview on the development of waste research. The survey targeted the last 10 years of waste research at Swedish academic institutions trying to identify the total amount of research and trends over time with regard to issues, volume and distribution over academic disciplines. In the survey, only the theses written at major Swedish universities were considered. All post-graduate theses from major Swedish universities were reviewed. Data were obtained from the homepages and search engines of the various libraries as of May 13 2004. Altogether 90 theses were identified from nine universities, i.e., an average of 1 thesis per University per year. The results of the survey indicate that: (1) the academic waste research is very small in comparison to the R&D performed by the industry; there seems to be a lack of interaction between industry and academia; (2) waste research is slowly getting into established academic environments and gains in quantity and diversion over time; (3) in addition to being driven by environmental protection legislation, there also seems to be emerging more industry interest from a production perspective.
Systematic conservation plans have only recently considered the dynamic nature of ecosystems. Methods have been developed to incorporate climate change, population dynamics, and uncertainty in reserve design, but few studies have examined how to account for natural disturbance. Considering natural disturbance in reserve design may be especially important for the world's remaining intact areas, which still experience active natural disturbance regimes. We developed a spatially explicit, dynamic simulation model, CONSERV, which simulates patch dynamics and fire, and used it to evaluate the efficacy of hypothetical reserve networks in northern Canada. We designed six networks based on conventional reserve design methods, with different conservation targets for woodland caribou habitat, high-quality wetlands, vegetation, water bodies, and relative connectedness. We input the six reserve networks into CONSERV and tracked the ability of each to maintain initial conservation targets through time under an active natural disturbance regime. None of the reserve networks maintained all initial targets, and some over-represented certain features, suggesting that both effectiveness and efficiency of reserve design could be improved through use of spatially explicit dynamic simulation during the planning process. Spatial simulation models of landscape dynamics are commonly used in natural resource management, but we provide the first illustration of their potential use for reserve design. Spatial simulation models could be used iteratively to evaluate competing reserve designs and select targets that have a higher likelihood of being maintained through time. Such models could be combined with dynamic planning techniques to develop a general theory for reserve design in an uncertain world.
Recent studies have shown that conservation gains can be achieved when the spatial distributions of biological benefits and economic costs are incorporated in the conservation planning process. Using Alberta, Canada, as a case study we apply these techniques in the context of coarse-filter reserve design. Because targets for ecosystem representation and other coarse-filter design elements are difficult to define objectively we use a trade-off analysis to systematically explore the relationship between conservation targets and economic opportunity costs. We use the Marxan conservation planning software to generate reserve designs at each level of conservation target to ensure that our quantification of conservation and economic outcomes represents the optimal allocation of resources in each case. Opportunity cost is most affected by the ecological representation target and this relationship is nonlinear. Although petroleum resources are present throughout most of Alberta, and include highly valuable oil sands deposits, our analysis indicates that over 30% of public lands could be protected while maintaining access to more than 97% of the value of the region's resources. Our case study demonstrates that optimal resource allocation can be usefully employed to support strategic decision making in the context of land-use planning, even when conservation targets are not well defined.
Cites: Nature. 2000 May 11;405(6783):243-5310821285
St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) supports a grassroots green team, called Environmental Vision and Action (EVA). Since the creation of EVA, a healthy balance between corporate projects led by corporate leaders and grassroots initiatives led by informal leaders has resulted in many successful environmental initiatives. Over a relatively short period of time, environmental successes at SJHH have included waste diversion programs, energy efficiency and reduction initiatives, alternative commuting programs, green purchasing practices, clinical and pharmacy greening and increased staff engagement and awareness. Knowledge of social movements theory helped EVA leaders to understand the internal processes of a grassroots movement and helped to guide it. Social movements theory may also have broader applicability in health care by understanding the passionate engagement that people bring to a common cause and how to evolve sources of opposition into engines for positive change. After early successes, as the limitations of a grassroots movement began to surface, the EVA team revived the concept of evolving the grassroots green program into a corporate program for environmental stewardship. It is hard to quantify the importance of allowing our staff, physicians, volunteers and patients to engage in changes that they feel passionately about. However, at SJHH, the transformation of a group of people unsatisfied with the organization's environmental performance into an 'engine for change' has led to a rapid improvement in environmental stewardship at SJHH that is now regarded as a success.
Acidification of soils and surface waters caused by acid deposition is still a major problem in southern Scandinavia, despite clear signs of recovery. Besides emission control, liming of lakes, streams, and wetlands is currently used to ameliorate acidification in Sweden. An alternative strategy is forest soil liming to restore the acidified upland soils from which much acidified runoff originates. This cost-benefit analysis compared these liming strategies with a special emphasis on the time perspective for expected benefits. Benefits transfer was used to estimate use values for sport ffishing and nonuse values in terms of existence values. The results show that large-scale forest soil liming is not socioeconomically profitable, while lake liming is, if it is done efficiently-in other words, if only acidified surface waters are treated. The beguiling logic of "solving" an environmental problem at its source (soils), rather than continuing to treat the symptoms (surface waters), is thus misleading.
Cites: Nature. 2007 Nov 22;450(7169):537-4018033294
The conceptual rubric of ecosystem management has been widely discussed and deliberated in conservation biology, environmental policy, and land/resource management. In this paper, I argue that two critical aspects of the ecosystem management concept require greater attention in policy and practice. First, although emphasis has been placed on the "space" of systems, the "time" -- or rates of change -- associated with biophysical and social systems has received much less consideration. Second, discussions of ecosystem management have often neglected the temporal disconnects between changes in biophysical systems and the response of social systems to management issues and challenges. The empirical basis of these points is a case study of the "Crown of the Continent Ecosystem," an international transboundary area of the Rocky Mountains that surrounds Glacier National Park (USA) and Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada). This project assessed the experiences and perspectives of 1) middle- and upper-level government managers responsible for interjurisdictional cooperation, and 2) environmental nongovernment organizations with an international focus. I identify and describe 10 key challenges to increasing the extent and intensity of transboundary cooperation in land/resource management policy and practice. These issues are discussed in terms of their political, institutional, cultural, information-based, and perceptual elements. Analytic techniques include a combination of environmental history, semistructured interviews with 48 actors, and text analysis in a systematic qualitative framework. The central conclusion of this work is that the rates of response of human social systems must be better integrated with the rates of ecological change. This challenge is equal to or greater than the well-recognized need to adapt the spatial scale of human institutions to large-scale ecosystem processes and transboundary wildlife.