Special Issue "Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Social Ecology and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lalisa A Duguma
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
World Agroforestry (International Centre for Research in Agroforestry – ICRAF), Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Interests: ecosystem-based adaptation; community-based resource management; tree-based sustainable energy systems; sustainable forest management; sustainable environments in humanitarian settings
Dr. Peter A Minang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
World Agroforestry (International Centre for Research In Agroforestry – ICRAF), Nairobi 00100, Kenya
Interests: nexus between adaptation and mitigation to climate change; the interface between environmental services and development; multifunctional landscapes; landscape governance and the governance of tree commodities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Humans have lived with ecosystems for millions of years. This coexistence and nurturing of one another’s current and future needs has kept the planet thriving for years. However, this is no longer the case. Human activities, largely driven by extractive resource use, has threatened the future of the planet and its ecosystems—from the oceans to the forests and to microbial organisms below the surface. The prevalent challenges of deforestation, pollution, climate change, migration, etc. are largely the consequences of our own way of life that failed to take into account the future of the ecosystem that is supporting our future. The solution therefore only lies with humans, by reshaping our relations with nature and helping communities at all levels to prioritize such actions.

The impacts of climate change are becoming so concerning that measures are sought for to help reduce its impacts. Despite the huge investments in technology to abate the problem, countries such as those in sub-Saharan Africa where resources available to invest in technological solutions are lacking are suffering disproportionately. To sustainably reduce the impacts of climate change at wider scale (i.e., both locally and globally), looking back at how people could cope with climate change impacts through the ecosystem services generated from ecosystems is crucial. For this reason, investments in ecosystem-based approaches to climate change both for mitigation and adaptation needs are growing. Building effective ecosystem-based approaches requires an in-depth understanding of people–nature relationships and how we can build the lost mutual relationships between the two.

This Special Issue focuses on building resilience and sustainability at the local level using the principles of social ecology as the founding attributes. This includes addressing the needs of the people and the ecosystem such that both thrive together, forging a sustainable pathway while ensuring the generation of ecosystem services for both people and biodiversity. The geographic focus is largely sub-Saharan Africa, but submissions from other regions of the world with relevant experiences are also welcome.

Manuscripts on the following topics are very welcome:

  • Ecosystem-based adaptation;
  • Managing climate risks for the future;
  • Bottom-up approaches to addressing climate change;
  • Nature-based enterprises as a resilience strategy;
  • Community natural resources management;
  • People–nature interactions;
  • Transhumance;
  • Governance of energy supply sources in dryland ecosystems;
  • Human migration and ecosystems;
  • Restoration of ecosystem services.

This Special Issue addresses the wide knowledge gap in how social ecology could influence both the resilience agenda and sustainability at local and global scales. It covers the missing link on how people at multiple scales could play a crucial role in addressing climate change from multiple angles through nurturing ecosystems.

Dr. Lalisa A Duguma
Dr. Peter A Minang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • society
  • ecology
  • resilience
  • ecosystem-based adaptation
  • people–nature–adaptation nexus
  • ecosystem services
  • restoration

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Landscape Governance and Sustainable Land Restoration: Evidence from Shinyanga, Tanzania
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147730 - 11 Jul 2021
Viewed by 407
Abstract
Inclusive land restoration is increasingly considered to be a critical sustainable pathway to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in developing countries. The literature suggests that good governance practices support successful sustainable natural resource management. The study assesses the role of landscape [...] Read more.
Inclusive land restoration is increasingly considered to be a critical sustainable pathway to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in developing countries. The literature suggests that good governance practices support successful sustainable natural resource management. The study assesses the role of landscape governance in a long-term thriving forest and landscape restoration project in Shinyanga. We apply the good governance principles, which include participation, representation and legitimacy, actor interactors, equity and fairness, accountability and transparency, and respect for local knowledge. Descriptive methods are used to analyze the data collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The evidence suggests that all of the principles contributed positively to the successful restoration, except for accountability and transparency. Building on local knowledge and institutions, the local rules and norms of restoration constituted the foundation of the success. Equity and empowerment were the least influential attributes due to the exclusion of women in the management of the restoration areas. The actors identified the enhancement of the incentives, equitable benefit-sharing mechanisms, performance, and accountability instruments as the key governance aspects that would benefit land restoration at the landscape level. Furthermore, cohesion and synergies amongst the different actors, the governing structures, and recognizing formal and informal institutions’ interactions are vital determinants of restoration outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Article
Understanding People−Forest Relationships: A Key Requirement for Appropriate Forest Governance in South Sumatra, Indonesia
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7029; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137029 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 619
Abstract
Indonesian forestry challenges in attributional land-use conflicts of overlapping villages and state forests have affected community livelihoods and forest sustainability for decades. This empirical research uncovers the socio-economic attributes of villages in order to gain a better understanding of people−forest relationships in order [...] Read more.
Indonesian forestry challenges in attributional land-use conflicts of overlapping villages and state forests have affected community livelihoods and forest sustainability for decades. This empirical research uncovers the socio-economic attributes of villages in order to gain a better understanding of people−forest relationships in order to guide improved forest management and governance for long-term sustainability. Data were obtained from 69 villages located in the forest management unit of Lakitan Bukit Cogong in South Sumatra Province. Spatially-explicit quantitative measurements and qualitative approaches were employed to explore the interrelationships between human footprint, village development, and conflict resolution strategies over two decades. The results confirmed that utilization of forest areas as part of the village territory (such as for building settlements, public/social infrastructure facilities, plantations and agricultural fields) has long been administered without permits, destabilizing forest functions. Moreover, aspects such as human population size, proximity of villages to the national road and sub-district capital, and the transmigration settlement units have an impact on the Human Footprint Index and Village Development Index. Furthermore, our analyses identified three distinctive forms of conflict based on village type: (1) villages which are administratively included in the forest area; (2) villages for transmigration settlement; and (3) villages adjacent to company management concession areas. In these villages, the clarity of land/forest boundaries and property rights are predominant conflict issues. Several recommendations are proposed to support sustainable forest development; namely, controlling human activities in the forest, improving village management governance, and resolving associated conflicts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Article
The Unexplored Socio-Cultural Benefits of Coffee Plants: Implications for the Sustainable Management of Ethiopia’s Coffee Forests
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073912 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1117
Abstract
Coffee is among the most popular commodity crops around the globe and supports the livelihoods of millions of households along its value chain. Historically, the broader understanding of the roles of coffee has been limited to its commercial value, which largely is derived [...] Read more.
Coffee is among the most popular commodity crops around the globe and supports the livelihoods of millions of households along its value chain. Historically, the broader understanding of the roles of coffee has been limited to its commercial value, which largely is derived from coffee, the drink. This study, using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, explores some of the unrevealed socio-cultural services of coffee of which many people are not aware. The study was conducted in Gomma district, Jimma Zone, Oromia National Regional state, Ethiopia, where arabica coffee was first discovered in its natural habitat. Relying on a case study approach, our study uses ethnographic study methods whereby results are presented from the communities’ perspectives and the subsequent discussions with the communities on how the community perspectives could help to better manage coffee ecosystems. Coffee’s utilities and symbolic functions are numerous—food and drink, commodity crop, religious object, communication medium, heritage and inheritance. Most of the socio-cultural services are not widely known, and hence are not part of the benefits accounting of coffee systems. Understanding and including such socio-cultural benefits into the wider benefits of coffee systems could help in promoting improved management of the Ethiopian coffee forests that are the natural gene pools of this highly valuable crop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Article
The Potentials and Challenges of Achieving Sustainability through Charcoal Producer Associations in Kenya: A Missed Opportunity?
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2288; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042288 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 715
Abstract
The charcoal industry, specifically charcoal production, is tremendously valuable to Kenya for its contribution to economic, social and environmental nexus. Considering the degradation of ecosystems and charcoal production’s critical role, the government established the Forest (charcoal) rules of 2009, assigning commercial charcoal production [...] Read more.
The charcoal industry, specifically charcoal production, is tremendously valuable to Kenya for its contribution to economic, social and environmental nexus. Considering the degradation of ecosystems and charcoal production’s critical role, the government established the Forest (charcoal) rules of 2009, assigning commercial charcoal production under Charcoal Producer Associations (CPAs). Identifying numerous bans in the recent past, this paper sets out to understand CPAs’ potentials and challenges in attaining sustainability within the sector. Using focus group discussions with CPA members from Tana River and Kitui counties, the paper outlines analysed data within the functionality, governance and policy implications parameters of operation. The findings show high economic value for the members and an in-depth environmental significance to the communities within which these CPAs exist. Thus, we propose a schematic to enhance charcoal production processes to achieve sustainable ecosystems and livelihoods. There is high potential within the CPAs for the sector’s sustainability through monitoring platforms, restoration plans, adopting sustainable practices, knowledge dissemination and societal advancement. To advance this untapped potential of these associations, we recommend building their technical, business and governance skills, exploring various restoration schemes, financial and regulatory support in implementation, and policy support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Article
COVID-19 Pandemic and Agroecosystem Resilience: Early Insights for Building Better Futures
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1278; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031278 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2349
Abstract
The way the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted human lives and livelihoods constituted a stress test for agroecosystems in developing countries, as part of rural–urban systems and the global economy. We applied two conceptual schemes to dissect the evidence in peer-reviewed literature so far, as [...] Read more.
The way the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted human lives and livelihoods constituted a stress test for agroecosystems in developing countries, as part of rural–urban systems and the global economy. We applied two conceptual schemes to dissect the evidence in peer-reviewed literature so far, as a basis for better understanding and enabling ‘building back better’. Reported positive impacts of the lockdown ‘anthropause’ on environmental conditions were likely only short-term, while progress towards sustainable development goals was more consistently set back especially for social aspects such as livelihood, employment, and income. The loss of interconnectedness, driving loss of assets, followed a ‘collapse’ cascade that included urban-to-rural migration due to loss of urban jobs, and illegal exploitation of forests and wildlife. Agricultural activities geared to international trade were generally disrupted, while more local markets flourished. Improved understanding of these pathways is needed for synergy between the emerging adaptive, mitigative, transformative, and reimaginative responses. Dominant efficiency-seeking strategies that increase fragility will have to be re-evaluated to be better prepared for further pandemics, that current Human–Nature interactions are likely to trigger. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Article
Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Practices as a Nature-Based Solution to Promote Water-Energy-Food Nexus Balance
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1142; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031142 - 22 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 912
Abstract
The objective of this study is to evaluate the contributions of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) practices to the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus balance, design practical pathways, and analyze barriers towards achievement of EbA-WEF balance. An area case study and descriptive methods were used to analyze [...] Read more.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the contributions of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) practices to the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus balance, design practical pathways, and analyze barriers towards achievement of EbA-WEF balance. An area case study and descriptive methods were used to analyze data collected from 50 community forests (CFs) spread across three regions in The Gambia. Extensive information from relevant literature sources was also referred to in this study. Fourteen priority EbA practices were established and categorized into four major groups based on their application similarities. Among the anticipated ecosystem services were enhanced water resource conservation, food and feed production, enhanced energy supply, and improved community livelihoods to enhance their resilience. Pathways on how each practice under the broad category contributes to water, energy, and food were developed to demonstrate how they individually and collectively contribute towards the nexus balance. Key enablers identified included a conducive policy framework, institutional support, diverse incentives, information, knowledge, and technology transfer, and climate and non-climate barriers were cited as impediments. The paper concludes by outlining recommendations to overcome the established barriers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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Review

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Review
Modeling Non-Cooperative Water Use in River Basins
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8269; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158269 - 23 Jul 2021
Viewed by 225
Abstract
Conventional water use and management models have mostly emulated purposefully designed water use systems where centralized governance and rule-based cooperation of agents are assumed. However, water use systems, whether actively governed or not, involve multiple, independent decision makers with diverse and often conflicting [...] Read more.
Conventional water use and management models have mostly emulated purposefully designed water use systems where centralized governance and rule-based cooperation of agents are assumed. However, water use systems, whether actively governed or not, involve multiple, independent decision makers with diverse and often conflicting interests. In the absence of adequate water management institutions to effectively coordinate decision processes on water use, water users’ behaviors are rather likely to be non-cooperative, meaning that actions by individual users generate externalities and lead to sub-optimal water use efficiency. The objective of this review is to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of recently proposed modeling systems dealing with non-cooperative water use regarding their ability to realistically represent the features of complex hydrological and socioeconomic processes and their tractability in terms of modeling tools and computational efficiency. For that purpose, we conducted a systematic review of 47 studies that address non-cooperative water use in decentralized modeling approaches. Even though such a decentralized approach should aim to model decisions by individual water users in non-cooperative water use, we find that most studies assumed the presence of a coordinating agency or market in their model. It also turns out that most of these models employed a solution procedure that sequentially solved independent economic decisions based on pre-defined conditions and heuristics, while only few modeling approaches offered simultaneous solution algorithms. We argue that this approach cannot adequately capture economic trade-offs in resource allocation, in contrast to models with simultaneous solution procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Ecology, Climate Resilience and Sustainability in the Tropics)
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