Drivers of Ecosystem-based Adaptation to extreme events in mangrove-reef social-ecological systems
This project focuses on social and environmental processes and interactions that shape the effectiveness of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) to tropical cyclones in mangrove-reef-dependent coastal communities. EbA has emerged over the past decade as an adaptation approach that focuses on strategies such as restoration, management, and conservation to help reduce the impacts of extreme events. Several studies show that mangrove forests and coral reefs can significantly reduce flood damage to people and property during tropical cyclone events, while also providing valuable resources such as timber for reconstruction and fuel in their aftermath. These ecosystems are, in turn, affected by cyclone impacts and the communities that use and manage them. In other words, EbA are an inherently dynamic Social-Ecological System (SES) with strong feedbacks between the ecosystems, the people and communities depending upon and managing them, and external shocks like cyclones. With an integrated approach that combines social, ecological, and engineering methods, the insights from this project will inform the design of EbA strategies for cyclone-prone communities worldwide. The investigators are training graduate students to conduct interdisciplinary coastal science and results are enhancing curricula for undergraduate students studying coastal issues. Research outcomes are being made available to resource and disaster risk managers in Fiji and Puerto Rico through workshops, policy briefs and online maps.
This project is advancing understanding of how Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in mangrove-reef Social-Ecological Systems (SES) respond to cyclone impacts among vulnerable communities in Fiji and Puerto Rico. Both are natural resource-rich small island states frequently experiencing cyclones, yet have different environmental governance systems. Using an SES framework, this project is identifying how interactions in a mangrove-coral reef SES and extreme events shape existing and emerging EbA actions and outcomes. The project takes a convergent approach, combining natural resource management, ecology, and engineering to assess the social and environmental drivers that shape the implementation and effectiveness of EbA. The study incorporates: social-science methods to identify socio-economic and governance drivers of EbA actions; remote sensing methods to detect drivers of ecological change; an agent-based model to describe how social processes and interactions with the environment influence EbA actions, and; a coastal flood damage model to quantify the flood protection benefits derived under different scenarios of mangrove and reef ecosystem extent and condition. Outputs from these methods will develop predictions of the social and ecological outcomes of EbA under different scenarios of future cyclone events and mangrove-reef management strategies. Results will inform future EbA efforts on similar coastlines worldwide.