S. de Gregorio Hurtado
National climate policies across Europe and their impacts on cities strategies
Globally, efforts are underway to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to climate change impacts at the local level. However, there is a poor understanding of the relationship between city strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation and the relevant policies at national and European level. This paper describes a comparative study and evaluation of cross-national policy. It reports the findings of studying the climate change strategies or plans from 200 European cities from Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The study highlights the shared responsibility of global, European, national, regional and city policies. An interpretation and illustration of the influences from international and national networks and policy makers in stimulating the development of local strategies and actions is proposed. It was found that there is no archetypical way of planning for climate change, and multiple interests and motivations are inevitable. Our research warrants the need for a multi-scale approach to climate policy in the future, mainly ensuring sufficient capacity and resource to enable local authorities to plan and respond to their specific climate change agenda for maximising the management potentials for translating environmental challenges into opportunities.
Journal of Environmental Management, 168:36-45.
Computer, Environment and Urban Systems, 60:12-22
Transportation as a protected area management tool: An agent-based model to assess the effect of travel mode choices on hiker movements
There is considerable evidence today that transportation may be used to effectively manage protected areas. The actual possibility to do so, however, depends on managers' ability to understand how a transportation strategy may affect visitor movements prior to its actual implementation. This is inherently difficult in areas served by multiple transport modes because the characteristics and management of such modes as well as the conditions that derive from their use, determining travel mode choices, may impact visitation patterns in unexpected and potentially unintended ways. This paper presents an agent-based model (ABM) that helps managers capture the overall consequences of a transportation strategy as it merges two key components of protected area visitation, namely the transportation to the area (via different transport modes) and the movement within the area (along hiking trails). Travel mode choice in the ABM is simulated by a discrete choice sub-model that accounts for both management decisions (e.g. road toll) and contingent conditions (e.g. road traffic). Additionally, a method is presented that allows managers to define comprehensively effective strategies by running sequential simulations under different initial conditions and comparing their performances against a series of quality indicators. An application in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site (Italy) shows the model is capable of providing reliable estimates of a strategy's overall consequences, helping managers use the transportation tool as effectively as possible.
Land Use Policy, 58:514-532
Spatial assessment of climate change vulnerability at city scale: A study in Bangalore, India
Integrating adaptation and mitigation response actions to climate change in urban-level policies requires comprehensive information on vulnerability patterns, yet a majority of local governments and decision makers in various cities in developing nations lack spatially explicit information on climate change vulnerability and its key drivers. In addition, there is no standardised method for an all-inclusive vulnerability assessment at the local level. Results from higher broad-scale vulnerability assessments are difficult to implement conceptually and technically at the local scale. We present a climate change vulnerability assessment approach at the city scale that considers three main components: exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Indicators were assessed within each component and were combined using Spatial Multi-Criteria Evaluation (SMCE). The standardisation of indicators under each component was conducted, along with weighting, at each level of the vulnerability assessment hierarchy. The vulnerability assessment approach was applied to an urban area in India; namely, Bangalore metropolitan area. The application of vulnerability assessment approach was demonstrated and a spatial assessment of climate change vulnerability patterns was presented. The spatial pattern of vulnerability identifies areas urgently requiring attention to adaptation action, while vulnerability assessment enables policy intervention and prioritization at local spatial scales. This study presents a rational to integrate vulnerability assessment approach within the urban planning realm in Bangalore metropolitan area where according to our study approximately 91% of the area is facing high degree of climate vulnerability.
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Comparing alternative frameworks for integrated valuation of ecosystem services
Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) methods has been promoted as an alternative approach to monetary economic valuation of ecosystem services in Cost-Benefit Analysis framework (CBA). We discuss the potential of MCDA in providing a framework for integrated valuation of ecosystem services. We conclude that MCDA does in general perform better than CBA and associated monetary valuation techniques in several aspects that are essential in ecosystem service valuation. These include the ability of a valuation method to account for multiple dimensions of well-being, including ecological and economic as well as cultural and moral aspects of a policy or management problem and to facilitate open and transparent public debate on the pros and cons of alternative courses of action, including the distribution of gains and losses across beneficiaries of ecosystem services. The capacity of MCDA to articulate values related to ecosystem services depends on individual methods used in the MCDA process. More importantly, it depends of the ways in which the process is organized and facilitated. However, MCDA cannot provide representative information of the values of wider population. Further empirical and theoretical research is needed on the potential of hybrid methodologies to combine monetary valuation and MCDA in fruitful ways.
R. De Vreese
K. S.-H. Peh
A. Rincón Ruiz
S. Rogers H.
W. Van Reeth
B.T. van Zantenac
A new valuation school: Integrating diverse values of nature in resource and land use decisions
We are increasingly confronted with severe social and economic impacts of environmental degradation all over the world. From a valuation perspective, environmental problems and conflicts originate from trade-offs between values. The urgency and importance to integrate nature's diverse values in decisions and actions stand out more than ever. Valuation, in its broad sense of ‘assigning importance’, is inherently part of most decisions on natural resource and land use. Scholars from different traditions -while moving from heuristic interdisciplinary debate to applied transdisciplinary science- now acknowledge the need for combining multiple disciplines and methods to represent the diverse set of values of nature. This growing group of scientists and practitioners share the ambition to explore how combinations of ecological, socio-cultural and economic valuation tools can support real-life resource and land use decision-making. The current sustainability challenges and the ineffectiveness of single-value approaches to offer relief demonstrate that continuing along a single path is no option. We advocate for the adherence of a plural valuation culture and its establishment as a common practice, by contesting and complementing ineffective and discriminatory single-value approaches. In policy and decision contexts with a willingness to improve sustainability, integrated valuation approaches can be blended in existing processes, whereas in contexts of power asymmetries or environmental conflicts, integrated valuation can promote the inclusion of diverse values through action research and support the struggle for social and environmental justice. The special issue and this editorial synthesis paper bring together lessons from pioneer case studies and research papers, synthesizing main challenges and setting out priorities for the years to come for the field of integrated valuation.
Science of The Total Environment
Landscape changes, traditional ecological knowledge and future scenarios in the Alps:
A holistic ecological approach
In recent decades, a dramatic landscape change has occurred in the European alpine region: open areas have been naturally recolonized by forests as traditional agricultural and forest activities were reduced and reorganized. Land use changes (LUC) are generally measured through GIS and photo interpretation techniques, but despite many studies focused on this phenomenon and its effects on biodiversity and on the environment in general, there is a lack of information about the transformation of the human-environment connection. The study of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), such as the ability to recognize wild plants used as medicine or food, can suggest how this connection evolved through time and generations. This work investigates the relationship between the natural forest cover expansion that influences the loss of open areas and the loss of TEK. Different data sources and approaches were used to address the topic in all its complexity: a mix of questionnaire investigations, historical maps, GIS techniques and modelling were used to analyse past land use changes and predict future scenarios. The study area, Trentino, Italy, is paradigmatic of the alpine situation, and the land use change in the region is well documented by different studies, which were reviewed and compared in this paper. Our findings suggest that open area loss can be used as a good proxy to highlight the present state and to produce future scenarios of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. This could increase awareness of the loss of TEK in other Alpine regions, where data on TEK are lacking, but where environmental trends are comparable.
Science of The Total Environment
Modelling white-water rafting suitability in a hydropower regulated Alpine River
Cultural and recreational river ecosystem services and their relations with the flow regime are still poorly investigated. We develop a modelling-based approach to assess recreational flow requirements and the spatially distributed river suitability for white-water rafting, a typical service offered by mountain streams, with potential conflicts of interest with hydropower regulation. The approach is based on the principles of habitat suitability modelling using water depth as the main attribute, with preference curves defined through interviews with local rafting guides. The methodology allows to compute streamflow thresholds for conditions of suitability and optimality of a river reach in relation to rafting. Rafting suitability response to past, present and future flow management scenarios can be predicted on the basis of a hydrological model, which is incorporated in the methodology and is able to account for anthropic effects. Rafting suitability is expressed through a novel metric, the “Rafting hydro-suitability index” (RHSI) which quantifies the cumulative duration of suitable and optimal conditions for rafting. The approach is applied on the Noce River (NE Italy), an Alpine River regulated by hydropower production and affected by hydropeaking, which influences suitability at a sub-daily scale. A dedicated algorithm is developed within the hydrological model to resemble hydropeaking conditions with daily flow data. In the Noce River, peak flows associated with hydropeaking support rafting activities in late summer, highlighting the dual nature of hydropeaking in regulated rivers. Rafting suitability is slightly reduced under present, hydropower-regulated flow conditions compared to an idealized flow regime characterised by no water abstractions. Localized water abstractions for small, run-of-the-river hydropower plants are predicted to negatively affect rafting suitability. The proposed methodology can be extended to support decision making for flow management in hydropower regulated streams, as it has the potential to quantify the response of different ecosystem services to flow regulation.