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Bridging Scales and Knowledge Systems

Concepts and Applications in Ecosystem Assessment

Edited by Walter V. Reid, Fikret Berkes, Thomas Wilbanks, Doris Capistrano

The very first meeting of the MA Exploratory Committee introduced three novel dimensions to the assessment process. First, the group concluded that the assessment could not be done at a single global scale and would need to examine processes of ecosystem change and human impacts at other scales, including in particular the scale of individual communities. Second, it was evident that the audience for the findings of an assessment of these issues was much broader than the traditional audience of global assessments (national governments) and must include other stakeholders from business, nongovernmental organizations, indigenous people, and other civil society groups. Finally, it was clear that the knowledge base for an assessment of this nature could not be limited to the scientific literature but must draw on other “informal” sources of knowledge, including local, traditional, and practitioner’s knowledge.

The MA was the largest assessment effort ever to attempt to incorporate all of these dimensions in its design, and in that regard it can be seen as an experiment or pilot in applying multiple scales and knowledge systems in an assessment. But, in fact, a tremendous depth of research and experience exists in relation to each of these dimensions of scale, stakeholders, and knowledge systems. Recognizing that this existing experience could significantly aid the MA process, and also recognizing that the MA itself provided an experiment that could further advance understanding of issues of scale and epistemology, the MA Sub-Global Working Group organized an international conference on these issues called Bridging Scales and Epistemologies: Linking Local Knowledge and Global Science in Multi-scale Assessments. More than two hundred people from fifty countries participated in that conference, which was held in March 2004 and hosted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt.

This book—Bridging Scales and Knowledge Systems: Concepts and Applications in Ecosystem Assessment—is one product of that conference. While the MA provides the motivation for this book, and while several chapters present experiences from the MA, this book, like the conference, reaches far beyond the MA process to explore the challenges, costs, and benefits of bridging scales and knowledge systems in assessment processes and in resource management. The issues explored in this book push the limits of science, politics, and social processes. Although a number of general lessons emerge, many questions remain unanswered about how to make such processes work, how to address issues of power and empowerment, and how to address technical issues of information scaling and knowledge validation. In this respect, the volume does not attempt to provide a blueprint, but it does illustrate the multiple dimensions of the challenges inherent in bridging scales and knowledge systems.

Chapters for Download

Contents, Preface, Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: Introduction (Walter V. Reid, Fikret Berkes, Thomas J. Wilbanks, And Doris Capistrano)

Bridging Scales

Chapter 2: How Scale Matters: Some Concepts and Findings (Thomas J. Wilbanks)

Chapter 3: The Politics of Scale in Environmental Assessments (Louis Lebel)

Chapter 4: Assessing Ecosystem Services at Different Scales in the Portugal Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Henrique M. Pereira, Tiago Domingos, And Luís Vicente)

Chapter 5: A Synthesis of Data and Methods across Scales to Connect Local Policy Decisions to Regional Environmental Conditions: The Case of the Cascadia Scorecard (Chris Davis)

Chapter 6: Scales of Governance in Carbon Sinks: Global Priorities and Local Realities (Emily Boyd)

Bridging Knowledge Systems

Chapter 7: What Counts as Local Knowledge in Global Environmental Assessments and Conventions? (J. Peter Brosius)

Chapter 8: Bridging the Gap or Crossing a Bridge? Indigenous Knowledge and the Language of Law and Policy (Michael Davis)

Chapter 9: Mobilizing Knowledge for Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (Christo Fabricius, Robert Scholes, And Georgina Cundill)

Case Studies

Chapter 10: Keep It Simple and Be Relevant: The First Ten Years of the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op (Joan Eamer)

Chapter 11: Cosmovisions and Environmental Governance:The Case of In Situ Conservation of Native Cultivated Plants and Their Wild Relatives in Peru (Jorge Ishizawa)

Chapter 12: Harmonizing Traditional and Scientific Knowledge Systems in Rainfall Prediction and Utilization (Rengalakshmi Raj)

Chapter 13: Managing People’s Knowledge: An Indian Case Study of Building Bridges from Local to Global and from Oral to Scientific Knowledge (Yogesh Gokhale, Madhav Gadgil, Anil Gupta, Riya Sinha, and K. P. (Prabha) Achar)

Chapter 14: Barriers to Local-level Ecosystem Assessment and Participatory Management in Brazil (Cristiana S. Seixas)

Chapter 15: Integrating Epistemologies through Scenarios (Elena Bennett And Monika Zurek)


Chapter 16: The Politics of Bridging Scales and Epistemologies: Science and Democracy in Global Environmental Governance (Clark Miller And Paul Erickson)

Chapter 17: Conclusions: Bridging Scales and Knowledge Systems (Fikret Berkes, Walter V. Reid, Thomas J. Wilbanks, And Doris Capistrano)

Notes, List of Authors, Index



© 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment