Systems Analysis and Sustainable Ecosystem Management

Knowledge of functioning ecosystem services needs to be improved and applied to protect, sustain, and restore the health of crucial natural habitats and ecosystems. Livelihoods are rooted in the structure and dynamics of socio-ecological systems. To accompany and accelerate change towards sustainability, we need to understand such systems.

The UN initiative, Agenda 2030, includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – primarily aimed to achieve “a decent life” for all life on Earth. Increasing uncertainty owing to global change mandates that we improve methods to generate knowledge about what trends and mechanisms underlie the qualities of socio-ecosystems that sustain a better world.

Applied statistics, modelling, assessment, system analyses, and participatory methods are part of many approaches that bring science into practice to provide rigorous evidence and concepts to support Sustainable Ecosystem Management (SEM). Furthermore, the generated evidence allows us to develop causal frameworks that assist stakeholders in innovating the management of terrestrial and aquatic interfaces. In doing so, we support trans-and interdisciplinary approaches in agroecology, agroforestry, livestock or fisheries and explore mitigation strategies to boost the resilience of natural ecosystems.

We specifically explore participatory approaches (e.g. facilitation, serious gaming and participatory modelling) to initiate recursive, iterative learning processes as meaningful support in managing socio-ecological systems.

Selected publications

Meulenbroek, P., Stranzl, S., Oueda, A., Sendzimir, J., Mano, K., Kabore, I., ... & Melcher, A. (2019). Fish Communities, Habitat Use, and Human Pressures in the Upper Volta Basin, Burkina Faso, West Africa. Sustainability11(19), 5444.

Webb, J. A., Schofield, K., Peat, M., Norton, S. B., Nichols, S. J., & Melcher, A. (2017). Weaving common threads in environmental causal assessment methods: toward an ideal method for rapid evidence synthesis. Freshwater Science36(1), 250-256.