Cultural ecosystem services and the avifauna of the Western Cape: a social-ecological systems investigation

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The ecosystem services concept has become inextricably linked to the economic valuation approach. Such an approach rests upon a triple incoherency, inadequately accounting for relationships between natural components, social and natural components, and within society itself. These incoherencies have distracted the ecosystem services concept away from its initial grounds: the reliance of humans upon the natural world. The faults of these three arenas are reviewed and found to be insuperable – ecosystem services must be re-imagined if they are to support positive conservation efforts. Such re-imagination here takes place within the framework of Social-ecological Systems (SES) theory. Founded upon the unifying concept of change, SES theory introduces a needed awareness of the dynamic interactions which characterize the process by which ecosystem services are realized by people. This introductory chapter sets the premise from which the rest of this thesis will operate: that the ecosystem services concept must account for the temporal dynamics of social-ecological interactions. Once an element of change becomes linked to ecosystem services only then can the concept may speak meaningfully to the co-constitution of the social and ecological arenas

Includes bibliographical references.