Environmental Management

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The Map of Maxi River in the Yangtze River Delta Region2
The causal mechanism of hierarchical interventions on collaboration
Article
  • Lingyi ZhouLingyi Zhou
  • Yixin DaiYixin Dai
Collaborative governance has been viewed as an effective approach to solve the problem of environmental pollution. Recently, while some scholars have advanced the integral role of hierarchical interventions in collaborative processes and outcomes, less attention has been paid to the long-term evolution of hierarchical interventions through the lifecycle of collaboration. Based on the case study of water collaborations along the Maxi River in the Yangtze Delta region since 2001, this paper investigates the empirical evolution and influencing mechanisms of hierarchical interventions, primarily hands-off and hands-on interventions, at different collaboration development stages. The results show that collaborations along the Maxi River have experienced stages of activation, collectivity and institutionalization in the past twenty years, wherein the quality and extent of the collaborative dynamics have gradually enhanced. Hierarchical interventions are found to be context-specific, though both hands-off and hands-on intervention tools have potential to exert positive influence on the three collaborative dynamics (principled engagement, shared motivation and capacity building). Hands-on strategies, namely the superiors’ direct participation or support, are of great importance in the initial stage when stakeholders have conflicts of interests/values or failed past experiences. As the collaborative process matures, the superordinate governments would usually adopt hands-off tools to provide an institutional framework and a legitimate basis, thereby fostering participants’ interdependence and self-initiated motivations. Additionally, in Chinese context, hands-off tools tend to take more powerful effects than hands-on tools in the long term.
 
Article
As the impacts of climate change and water demands from irrigation continue to increase in the Murray–Darling Basin, water for the environment is becoming more scarce and the ecological conditions of many wetlands is poor. With water scarcity, conservation triage is becoming an increasingly relevant management option for environmental watering of wetlands. However, triage is controversial; being considered contrary to current conservation objectives and practices. We assessed environmental watering at two Ramsar wetlands, Macquarie Marshes and Gunbower Forest, based on international environmental treaty obligations and domestic policy settings, changes to flow regimes, wetland condition and current management. Triage decision making was found to be in tacit use at Macquarie Marshes, based on ‘rules of thumb’ and experiential ecohydrological knowledge, whereas formal environmental watering planning formed the basis for triage decision making at Gunbower Forest. We developed a framework for conservation triage of wetlands in the Murray–Darling Basin to stimulate change in the decision context for wetland conservation and adaptation under climate change. Conservation triage entails reframing of relationships between people and nature and values, rules and knowledge used by stakeholders. Because water is the medium by which wetland conservation outcomes eventuate, trade-offs between competing water uses can be realised with the triage framework.
 
Life cycle model of collaborative partnerships from collaborative management and governance perspectives. Sources: McGuire (2002); Ansell and Gash (2007); Emerson and Nabatchi (2015); Imperial et al. (2016); Torfing et al. (2020); Ulibarri et al. (2020)
Florianopolis Municipality Chart modified
Florianópolis location in Santa Catarina state, Brazil. Sources: Ramos (2016) and Abreu (2006), adapted by authors
Individuals in collaborative governance over time: A role identity perspective
Article
Analyzing the effect of individual participants on collaborative governance processes in environmental management has been elusive due to lack of theoretical frameworks and data limitations. This study uses pattern matching to contrast identity theory with original data from 7 individuals participating in waste management and urban agriculture collaboration in Florianópolis, Brazil. What started as a self-organized initiative to manage an environmental problem, due to precarious waste management services, was scaled up to a citywide policy. Findings demonstrate that as the collaboration evolved over time, individual participants in municipal government transitioned between roles, organizations, and departments which affected their influence on the collaboration according to two transition styles: integrators (overlapping different roles) and segmenters (aligning roles with contexts without ambiguity). While the integrator-style participants were key to increasing sectoral diversity during the activation stage of the collaboration to produce innovative actions, segmenters contributed to formalizing the collaboration with appropriate institutional designs. However, the success of the collaboration after the institutionalization stage depended on the individual transition style and the power of municipal agents to have agency for influencing the collaboration. These findings have implications for adapting collaborative settings to respond to contextual changes that involve urban environmental issues.
 
Article
Collaborative governance involves convening of government and non-government actors in policy formulation and implementation. Motivating collaborative governance is the expectation that engagement of diverse arrays of stakeholders in the public policy process allows policymakers and administrators to draw on the expertise, resources, and perspectives of these stakeholders to develop more contextually appropriate and effective policies. Since collaborative governance is fundamentally premised on the representation of diverse stakeholders in collaborative processes, assessing the extent to which representation is actualized is paramount. This paper adds to recent scholarship that examines representation dynamics in collaborative governance arrangements, focusing specifically on: (i) how diverse stakeholders included in collaborative governance arrangements are descriptively and substantively represented; (ii) how substantively represented stakeholders are coordinating on informational and relationship building activities; (iii) how representation and coordination dynamics change over time; and (iv) the extent to which representation and coordination dynamics are indicative of collaboration life cycle stage. Additionally, in responding to this latter aim, the paper presents a novel approach for measuring life cycle stages. The paper reports on a comparative case study of environmental justice councils, which are collaborative governance arrangements convened by states to assist in the design and implementation of policies aimed at reducing environmental harms within low income and minority populated communities.
 
Overall research design
Preliminary risk assessment of brownfield site 13 criteria based
Article
Comprehensive risk assessment of brownfield sites requires a broad range of knowledge and multi-disciplinary expertise. Whilst the identification of criteria requirements for preliminary risk assessment has received some attention, there appears to be no studies that have specifically examined professional perspectives relating to these requirements. Yet, variations in professional practitioners’ assessments may have significant consequences for the assessment of risks, and how the criteria are imparted to stakeholders. This study aims to identify the criteria requirements for preliminary risk assessment, using the pollutant linkage model (Source–Pathway–Receptor), and explores cross-disciplinary professional perspectives related to these requirements. To this end, this study commenced with a systematic review to identify various criteria streams required for the preliminary risk assessment of brownfield sites. Thereafter, a questionnaire survey was design and shared with brownfield site professionals. Quantitative analysis of the survey responses ( n = 76) reveals disciplines have markedly different priorities relating to the same hazard. For instance, geophysicists, geochemists, and hydrologists do not raise concerns regarding ground movement that can result from the removal of storage and tanks, whilst the same hazard was considered as having a high importance by other professions (such as geologists and geotechnical engineers). This example, amongst others revealed in the study, underpins potential issues and implications for various stakeholders compiling and/or using preliminary risk assessment criteria. This study clarifies both the key criteria requirements for the preliminary risk assessment of brownfield sites, as well as the importance of recognising how variation in professionals’ perceptions plays in the risk assessment process. Although, specialist knowledge is essential for brownfield site investigation, so is the maintaining a broad-based view of other experts coming from different backgrounds, as this renders holistic risk assessment insights.
 
Spatial representation of total km² restored habitat by each project as reported in DIVER As-Builts (https://www.diver.orr.noaa.gov/), converted from acres. Restoration projects are (from left to right) Louisiana (ID5): Sister Lake, Hackberry Bay, Bay Crabe, Lake Fortuna (and enhancement), Drum Bay, 3 Mile Pass; Mississippi (ID8): Mississippi Sound; Alabama (ID11): Cedar Point and Heron Bay (shown as one location); Florida (ID25): Pensacola Bay, St. Andrews Bay, Apalachicola Bay
Live oyster densities (mean ± SE) in seed (shell height: 25–75 mm) + sack (>75 mm shell height) oysters (top) and all size classes (bottom) from quadrat samplings for NOAA early restoration oyster type projects (diver.orr.noaa/gov). Monitoring data for projects one-year post-restoration are presented in the left-hand column panels: ID5 (Louisiana-2014, Lake Fortuna Enhancement-2019), ID8 (Mississippi-2014), ID11 (Alabama-2016), and ID25 (Florida-2017). All projects had continued monitoring beyond one-year post-restoration, and data for the most recent year available are presented in the right-hand panels: 2019 for all projects except Mississippi -2018. Bay Crabe sampling ended in 2015, and Lake Fortuna Enhancement for 2019 is captured in Lake Fortuna densities. Alabama data did not allow a similar designation of seed + sack as they defined seed oysters differently than other states, so no data are provided on the top panels for AL. ND is no data
Article
Across coastal areas of the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in significant ecological injury, and over 8 billion USD directed to restoration activities. Oyster restoration projects were implemented with regional goals of restoring oyster abundance, spawning stock, and population resilience. Measuring regional or large-scale ecosystem restoration outcomes challenges traditional project-specific monitoring and outcome reporting. We examine the outcomes of oyster restoration at the project-level and discuss potential pathways to measure progress toward region-level goals. An estimated 15 km² of oyster habitat was restored across 11 different estuaries with 62 individual reef footprints created, ranging in size from ~0.2 to 1.45 km². Individual sites were distributed across the salinity gradient, and all reefs were subtidal. One-year post-restoration, mean total oyster density across all sites was 53.0 ± 60.7 ind m⁻² of which 38.4 ± 42.2 ind m⁻² were adult (>25 mm shell height) oysters. Recent data (2018/2019) available for all sites indicates reduced densities of total oysters (44.6 ± 70.9 ind m⁻²) and adult oysters (14.6 ± 21.6 ind m⁻²). These data provide insight into project specific outcomes, suggesting an overall enhancement in oyster abundance compared to pre-restoration, but fall short of informing outcomes at the regional-level that incorporate cumulative effects on adjacent and connected reef populations, or inform overall resiliency of the regional oyster resource. Developing regional outcome benchmarks that enable assessment of cumulative and synergistic impacts of individual projects may benefit from broader spatial and temporal monitoring requirements that can better inform development of regional tools or models. Such tools would enable cumulative effects analyses examining net resource change, resilience and assess impacts of restoration activities on regional resource status.
 
Article
Water provision and distribution are subject to conflicts between users worldwide, with agriculture as a major driver of discords. Water sensitive ecosystems and their services are often impaired by man-made water shortage. Nevertheless, they are not sufficiently included in sustainability or risk assessments and neglected when it comes to distribution of available water resources. The herein presented contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) and Life on Land (SDG 15) is the Ecological Sustainability Assessment of Water distribution (ESAW-tool). The ESAW-tool introduces a watershed sustainability assessment that evaluates the sustainability of the water supply-demand ratio on basin level, where domestic water use and the water requirements of ecosystems are considered as most important water users. An ecological risk assessment estimates potential impacts of agricultural depletion of renewable water resources on (ground)water-dependent ecosystems. The ESAW-tool works in standard GIS applications and is applicable in basins worldwide with a set of broadly available input data. The ESAW-tool is tested in the Danube river basin through combination of high-resolution hydro-agroecological model data (hydrological land surface process model PROMET and groundwater model OpenGeoSys) and further freely available data (water use, biodiversity and wetlands maps). Based on the results, measures for more sustainable water management can be deduced, such as increase of rainfed agriculture near vulnerable ecosystems or change of certain crops. The tool can support decision making of authorities from local to national level as well as private enterprises who want to improve the sustainability of their supply chains.
 
Streams and sampling point locations during the project “Evaluation of propagule pressure effects on the success of establishment and invasion of non-native species”, when the species selected for the evaluation of the protocols were often captured. Source: Camargo et al. (2021)
Article
The objectives of this study were to compare four risk assessment protocols for non-native species in neotropical regions and to assess the potential application of these tools for the management of invasive species and conservation of the ichthyofauna in Brazil. The protocols Fish Invasiveness Screening Kit (FISK), Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK), European Non-Native Species in Aquaculture Risk Assessment Scheme (ENSARS) and Fish Invasiveness Screening Test (FIST) were applied for the species Oreochromis niloticus, Coptodon rendalli, Poecilia reticulata and Apteronotus aff. albifrons, whose sources of introduction are aquaculture and fishkeeping. The species were classified as low, medium or high risk of invasion. The scores of the species O. niloticus, C. rendalli and P. reticulata classified them as high risk of invasion in all protocols, whereas A. aff. albifrons had medium risk in the protocols FISK and AS-ISK and low risk in the FIST. Although the results were similar for species whose impacts are widely described, less studied species may have their classification compromised by the lack of evidences in the literature. Despite the difficulties for practical application, the use of these tools may be encouraged, considering the potential threats of other invasive species emerging in Brazil. The comparison between the methods showed that the use of AS-ISK, combined with ENSARS in cases of introductions by aquaculture, provides important answers about ecological impacts on natural environments and about the stages of the aquaculture production chain that should be better inspected.
 
Predictions of (a) pre-fire sage-grouse nest habitat suitability index (HSI); (b) pre-fire sage-grouse nest survival map; (c) projected loss of selected nesting habitat from wildfire; (d) projected loss of habitat contributions to nest survival from wildfire within the Virginia Mountains region of Nevada, USA. Pre-fire data were specific to the breeding seasons of study years 2009–2016. Wildfire events occurred during the summers of 2016 and 2017.
Habitat restoration index based on the intersection of loss of habitat selected by sage-grouse and loss of habitat contributions to nest survival following wildfire. Four classes were created by reclassifying the differenced nest Resource Selection Function (RSF) map based on relative losses in habitat selected pre-fire >0 (2 classes, low vs. high) and the differenced nest survival map based on the 50th percentile of loss of cumulative 38-day nest survival (2 classes, low vs. high)
Established sagebrush recovery (>20% cover) within the 2016 and 2017 Virginia Mountain fires after 50 years under (a) passive, (b) seeding, (c) outplanting, and (d) grazing exclusion restoration efforts. Recovered sagebrush in priority nesting habitat is distinguished from non-priority recovery by darker shading
Article
Unprecedented conservation efforts for sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems across the western United States have been catalyzed by risks from escalated wildfire activity that reduces habitat for sagebrush-obligate species such as Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). However, post-fire restoration is challenged by spatial variation in ecosystem processes influencing resilience to disturbance and resistance to non-native invasive species, and spatial and temporal lags between slower sagebrush recovery processes and faster demographic responses of sage-grouse to loss of important habitat. Decision-support frameworks that account for these factors can help users strategically apply restoration efforts by predicting short and long-term ecological benefits of actions. Here, we developed a framework that strategically targets burned areas for restoration actions (e.g., seeding or planting sagebrush) that have the greatest potential to positively benefit sage-grouse populations through time. Specifically, we estimated sagebrush recovery following wildfire and risk of non-native annual grass invasion under four scenarios: passive recovery, grazing exclusion, active restoration with seeding, and active restoration with seedling transplants. We then applied spatial predictions of integrated nest site selection and survival models before wildfire, immediately following wildfire, and at 30 and 50 years post-wildfire based on each restoration scenario and measured changes in habitat. Application of this framework coupled with strategic planting designs aimed at developing patches of nesting habitat may help increase operational resilience for fire-impacted sagebrush ecosystems.
 
Map showing the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada; the geographic boundaries of this study
Factors important for environmental stewardship success, as identified by organization representatives. Darker shading indicates four elements from the framework for local environmental stewardship that were explicitly asked about in the interviews (Bennett et al. 2018)
Factors and themes important for environmental stewardship success, delineated by type of organization (staff- and volunteer-based) that discussed each. The blue and red coloring indicates lower and higher percentages, respectively
Article
Environmental stewardship is increasingly important as human actions threaten the natural world. Now, more than ever, it is necessary to understand what makes stewardship initiatives successful. This study investigates stewardship success in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. Specifically, the research seeks to determine what factors are associated with the success of environmental stewardship initiatives, differences between stewardship organizations (staff-based vs. volunteer-based), and reasons why those factors are important. Ten factors for successful stewardship initiatives were uncovered. Differences between volunteer and staff-based organizations were revealed, especially regarding factors of motivations and capacity. Qualitative analysis provided rich insights into why factors were important for success, with the physical ability to conduct the work and the importance of motivation being highlighted. The findings from the study provide a basis for future research which expands the empirical contexts for understanding stewardship success, broadens the variety of stewardship organizations considered, and incorporates additional measures of success.
 
Article
In most countries, major development projects must satisfy an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process that considers positive and negative aspects to determine if it meets environmental standards and appropriately mitigates or offsets negative impacts on the values being considered. The benefits of before-after-control-impact monitoring designs have been widely known for more than 30 years, but most development assessments fail to effectively link pre- and post-development monitoring in a meaningful way. Fish are a common component of EIA evaluation for both socioeconomic and scientific reasons. The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept was developed to describe the ecosystem attributes that benefit humans, and it offers the opportunity to develop a framework for EIA that is centred around the needs of and benefits from fish. Focusing an environmental monitoring framework on the critical needs of fish could serve to better align risk, development, and monitoring assessment processes. We define the ES that fish provide in the context of two common ES frameworks. To allow for linkages between environmental assessment and the ES concept, we describe critical ecosystem functions from a fish perspective to highlight potential monitoring targets that relate to fish abundance, diversity, health, and habitat. Finally, we suggest how this framing of a monitoring process can be used to better align aquatic monitoring programs across pre-development, development, and post-operational monitoring programs.
 
Article
Public policies often fail to address the unintended behavior of regulated firms and are therefore inconsistent in their implementation, resulting in ineffectiveness. In the process of environmental policy, policy implementation inconsistencies also exist, which is known as emission leakage. Existing studies on the topic focus more on spatial dimension and less attention to time dimension. The reasons for emission leakage over time are two: regulatory laxness and inefficiencies. In this study, we examine whether emission leakage occurs during enterprises’ end-of-life cycles. Based on unique high-frequency facility-level monitoring data, we construct a difference-in-differences (DID) model to investigate differences in environmental performance between hazardous chemical production firms in the process of closing and those in the same industry within 20 kilometers. This study finds no emission leakage problem in the processes of relocation and closure, and the concentration of chemical oxygen demand (COD) discharged declines by 28.53 percent. This result is mainly due to top-down regulatory requirements. Nevertheless, policymakers should remain aware of emission leakage when formulating environmental policies and create more substantial supervision to prevent potential leakage.
 
Article
Addressing the multiple anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic factors affecting small-scale fisheries requires collaboration from diverse regions, geographical scales, and administrative levels in order to prevent a potential misfit between governance systems and the socio-ecological problems they address. While connecting actors and stakeholders is challenging, as they often hold opposing perceptions and goals, unveiling the network configurations of governance systems remains one effective way to explore collaborative alliances in light of the diverse drivers of change present in small-scale fishery systems. This study employed descriptive statistics, exponential random graph models (ERGMs), and qualitative data analysis to explore preferential attachments of new nodes to well-positioned nodes within the Galapagos small-scale fishery governance system network and the propensity of cross-sectoral reciprocity and cross-sectoral open triads formation in the network. Our findings identified significant players and network configurations that might be essential in the collaboration diffusion and robustness of the Galapagos small-scale fishery sector governance system.
 
An example of results produced by the Minimum Travel Time algorithm (Finney 2002). Red areas represent the fastest (minimum time) travel paths for fire spread among nodes in the rasterized landscape for each of 50 random ignitions (yellow dots). The dark blue field represents the cheatgrass matrix, while the thin light line denotes landscape cells assigned to greenstrip fuel models. Above the light blue line is the “protected area” within which proportion of cells burned was calculated as the response variable for beta regression models. On the left, the greenstrip fuel models were comprised of only 10% live fuels, and all fires moved through the greenstrip and burned into the protected area. But on the right, where greenstrip fuel models were comprised of 90% live fuels, none of the fires moved through the greenstrip within the 60-min period of the simulation
Results from Minimum Travel Time simulations of fire spread through a cheatgrass-dominated landscape bisected by a greenstrip. Variables in the simulations included several fuel parameters and strip width (results for 50 and 250 m widths shown). Data are presented as the relative area of the landscape downwind of the greenstrip (the “protected area”) that was burned, as a measure of the effectiveness of the greenstrip in preventing, or at least slowing, fire spread under each combination of fuel parameters
Standardized coefficients and their 95% confidence intervals for beta regression modeling of greenstrip effectiveness (proportion of cells in the protected area that burned) by greenstrip fuel parameters included in the Minimum Travel Time simulation
Article
Invasive annual grasses alter fire regime in steppe ecosystems, and subsequent trends toward larger, more frequent wildfires impacts iconic biodiversity. A common solution is to disrupt novel fuel beds comprising continuous swaths of invasive annual grasses with greenstrips—linear, human-maintained stands of less-flammable vegetation. But selecting effective native species is challenged by the fact that identifying the optimal combination of plant traits that interrupt wildfire spread is logistically difficult. We employed fire behavior simulation modeling to determine plant traits with high potential to slow fire spread in annual Bromus-dominated fuelbeds. We found species with low leaf:stem (fine:coarse) ratios and high live:dead fuel ratios to be most effective. Our approach helps isolate fuelbed characteristics that slow fire spread, providing a geographically-agnostic framework to scale plant traits to greenstrip effectiveness. This framework helps managers assess potential native species for greenstrips without needing logistically-difficult experimental assessments to determine how a species might affect fire behavior.
 
Map of study area
Research timeline
Article
Environmental research with diverse stakeholders poses challenges for researchers, particularly when that research is also cross-cultural and/or cross-language. We argue that cross-cultural and/or cross-language environmental research requires translators and interpreters as active research partners, culture brokers and community partners to support research accountability and engagement, and that face-to-face surveys address challenges of other survey modes in cross-language and/or cross-cultural research. Drawing upon cross-cultural and cross-language environmental research with Vietnamese–American fishers on the U.S. Gulf Coast, we find that face-to-face surveys may promote response rate and allow for clarification, particularly for participants with language and cultural barriers. Translators, interpreters, culture brokers, and community partners play a critical role in cross-language and cross-cultural research and researchers must reflect on their role shaping research.
 
Dimensions of collaborative governance capacity (adapted from Foster-Fishman et al. 2001)
Article
To build capacity for addressing complex sustainable development challenges, governments, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations are making substantial investments in governance networks. Yet, enthusiasm for establishing governance networks is not always matched by empirical evidence on their effectiveness. This gap challenges these groups to know whether investing in governance networks is worth their time and effort; a weighing-up that is particularly critical in contexts of limited resources. Through a qualitative case study in Solomon Islands, we evaluate the extent to which a governance network, called the Malaita Provincial Partners for Development, contributed to four dimensions of collaborative governance capacity: individual, relational, organizational, and institutional. We find that the network made moderate contributions to individual, relational and organizational capacity, while institutional capacity remained low despite the presence of the network. Based on these findings, we argue that governance networks are not a panacea. Continued efforts are needed to establish when, how, and in what contexts collaborative networks are effective for building collaborative capacity for sustainable development.
 
Map of Minnesota with the three study counties highlighted. Created using mapchart.net©
Perceived effectiveness of overall dwarf mistletoe management efforts statewide according to the forester survey (N varies)
Article
Maintaining healthy forests requires multiple individuals, including foresters who develop timber sale silvicultural prescriptions and loggers who implement those prescriptions, resulting in the transplantation of forest health science into workable management plans. However, data on the experiences, attitudes, and opinions of these two groups are often missing when developing or refining forest health treatment strategies. To explore the role that these groups play in sustaining forest health, we examined timber sale administrators’ and loggers’ perspectives on treatment approaches for eastern spruce dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium pusillum) (ESDM), a parasitic plant native to Minnesota that increases mortality and reduces growth rate and regeneration success of black spruce (Picea mariana). While ESDM has been managed for decades in black spruce stands in Minnesota, little is known about the effectiveness of the management approaches. Data were gathered through interviews and focus groups with loggers, as well as an online survey and focus groups with foresters who administer timber sales. Study participants identified a range of field-based barriers, knowledge gaps, and uncertainties that hamper the ability to effectively implement ESDM treatment strategies as designed, including financial, administrative, informational, policy-related, and environmental factors. These factors have a significant bearing on the ability to effectively implement ESDM treatment approaches; yet may be factors that were not known or considered when developing treatment strategies. This case study underscores the value of nurturing a science–management partnership to ensure that a broad set of voices are considered when developing or revising forest health treatment strategies.
 
Article
Many low-income countries (LICs), including Nepal, endeavour to deliver climate mitigation by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving more sustainable resource consumption. However, their prospects of delivering on such goals alongside the rapid structural changes in the economy prevalent in the LICs are not clear. This research aims to better understand the underlying complexity in the linkage between the framing of climate mitigation actions into government policies and the prospects for their delivery. We use critical discourse analysis, post-structural discourse analysis, and thematic analysis of textual data corpus generated from government policies (n = 12) and semi-structured interviews (n = 12) with policy actors, such as government policymakers and private sector and non-government organisations’ representatives. We also develop energy and material consumption and GHG emissions models to predict their values up to 2050 via the R tools and machine learning algorithms that validate the accuracy of models. Our findings suggest that the social context of policymaking creates a knowledge structure on climate mitigation which is reflected in government policies. The policy actors and their institutions exchange their ideas and interests in a deliberative and collaborative environment to prioritise policies for the energy, forest, and transport sectors to deliver climate mitigation actions in Nepal. However, the energy sector, together with the agriculture sector, has insufficient climate mitigation actions. Reflecting on the high proportion of biomass in the energy mix and the rapid rise in fossil fuel and energy consumption per capita—both of which are driven by the remittance inflows—this research suggests measures to reduce these in an absolute sense.
 
Structural principle of three-stage super-efficiency DEA
Average disposal efficiency results comparison
Average disposal efficiency results comparison
Three-stage super-efficiency DEA hazardous waste disposal efficiency
Hazardous waste disposal efficiency in the EU from 2004 to 2016, a Hazardous waste disposal efficiency in EU countries from 2004 to 2016, b Mean efficiency belongs to (075, 0.90) c Mean efficiency belongs to [0.90, 0.97], d Mean efficiency belongs to [0.97, 0.99] e Mean efficiency belongs to [0.99, 1.1]
Article
Hazardous waste pollutes the air, soil, and water and adversely affects human health if not disposed of safely. Analysis of the efficiency of hazardous waste disposal is essential to sustainable development. This paper uses the three-stage super-efficiency Data Envelopment Analysis model to measure the efficiency of 28 EU countries from 2004 to 2016. To ensure the reliability of the results, the article utilizes a one-way ANOVA statistical test to verify whether DEA results vary significantly across various EU countries. This article discusses “how inputs and outputs can be adjusted to eliminate inefficiencies” to suggest a targeted improvement. The third stage supper efficiency DEA results shows that the efficiency varies significantly across different EU countries. The main reasons for the low efficiency are high generated hazardous waste, management expenditure, greenhouse gas emissions, and inadequate waste disposal volume. Targeted proposals from three aspects are given for policymakers in EU countries: Build a resource recycling system to reduce hazardous waste. Establish a sound fee management system to reduce expenses. Optimization of disposal technology to improve incineration efficiency.
 
Portraying TMNs support to strengthen CGRs. Source: Authors, based on Emerson and Gerlak (2014)
Case Study Location: (a) India, (b) the state of Sikkim, (c) Gangtok city, and (d) distance (20 km) between Gangtok (downtown) and the Gangtok’s waste dumping site (village of Martam). Source: Google (2021)
Main actors in the waste management initiative and how they interacted to form a CGR in Gangtok, India. Note: TMNs Transnational Municipal Networks, ACCCRN Asian Cities for Climate Change Resilience Network, ICLEI SA Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia, GMC Gangtok Municipal Corporation, IAP framework ICLEI ACCCRN Process framework, SLD methodology Shared learning dialogue methodology, NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations. Source: Authors
Timeline and the developmental stages of the project. Note: The blue line shows the current developmental stage of the project, with a slow decline. The red line shows possibilities for re-orientation and re-creation of the project’s ideas, goals and/or collaborative structure. Source: Authors
Key actors of the CGR and the four dimensions of Capacity for Joint Action. Source: Authors
Article
While there is abundant literature on Transnational Municipal Networks (TMNs) and collaborative governance regimes (CGRs) to respond to environmental change, few studies address TMNs as exogenous agents driving CGRs dynamics locally. TMNs have emerged as important actors in multilevel governance, providing formal structures for local governments to share best practices, access funding and influence the international policy arena on global environmental change. We argue that TMNs also have a pivotal role in the activation of CGRs and in strengthening the four dimensions of Capacity for Joint Action (CJA) identified by the literature: structural arrangements, leadership, knowledge and learning, and resources. Through the analysis of empirical evidence, based on semi-structured interviews and data sources (2014–2021), we investigate how TMNs built capacities and facilitated the emergence of a CGR in the case of waste management and composting initiative in Gangtok, India. In this case, two TMNs developed a toolkit to enable the local government to assess climate risks in the context of urbanization, poverty and vulnerability in Asia. Furthermore, at a certain point the local actors started to provide knowledge to the TMNs to be shared among other local governments and activating new CGRs, such as the case of Gangtok, which is active in sharing its knowledge in composting and climate change actions with other cities.
 
Article
A wide range of actors are seeking to democratize energy systems. In the collaborative governance process of energy system transitions to net zero, however, many energy democracy concepts are watered down or abandoned entirely. Using five renewable energy case studies, we first explore the diversity of energy democratizing system challengers and bottom-up actors. Secondly, we analyze the role of conflict and challenges arising from the subsequent collaborative governance process and identify what appear to be blind spots in the CG literature. Our case studies on Berlin (GER), Jena (GER), Kalmar (SWE), Minneapolis (US) and Southeast England (UK) include different types of policy processes and actors. They suggest that actors championing energy democracy principles play an important role in opening participation in the early stages of collaborative energy transition governance. As collaborative governance progresses, participation tends to be increasingly restricted. We conclude that collaborative processes by themselves are insufficient in maintaining energy democracy principles in the energy transition. These require institutional embedding of participative facilitation and consensus building. The Kalmar case study as our only successful example of energy democracy suggests that a more intermediated and service-oriented approach to energy provision can create a business case for democratizing energy provision through collaborative governance.
 
Article
Implementing management practices for the control of invasive species can be a complex task with multiple dimensions, where the identification of stakeholders and drivers of those practices is of paramount importance. The invasive hornet Vespa velutina has spread across Europe and Asia from its native range in SE Asia in recent years. A common control method is the removal and destruction of its nests on citizens’ request to call centers. In this paper we have explored the knowledge and main factors that influence the perceptions of the citizens on the species in an invaded municipality in NW Spain, as well as the management practices of the municipal emergency unit responsible for nest removal activities. Our analysis brings out multiple drivers of management practices that derive both from the citizens’ and practitioners’ knowledge, and highlights several points of conflict between both stakeholder groups connected to (1) the degree of service provided to the local population, (2) the risk of allergic reactions as a motive to urge removals, or (3) the quality of information provided by mass media. Our results support the crucial importance of environmental education programs that seek to increase the knowledge of the general public about the threats of invasive species. Such programs might be incorporated to implement and optimize management plans of V. velutina by enhancing communication between experts and local population.
 
Simplified hierarchy of Thai fishery sector stakeholders directly in control over the management of IUU fishing
Template analysis for deriving themes from the research
Coding tree (condensed partial illustration)
Miles and Snow archetypes within sustainability motivations and their management effectiveness
Article
This article introduces and elucidates a new sustainability management paradox by examining the difficulties of applying the European Union’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing regulations in Thai waters. Interviews were conducted with key stakeholders of Thailand’s fishery sector to explore the particularities of the area. Configuration theory—from a strategic management perspective—was used to guide empirical research and extend it to the context of environmental regulation. The research finds that when it makes more business sense for stakeholders to engage in sustainability matters, more explicit engagement might take place of the wrong type, but the true sustainability objectives become performed more poorly and mismanaged, perhaps resulting in a worse-off position than started with. This is because regulation is astute at setting targets, but ineffective at engaging with key stakeholders. A composite model of how configuration theory fits within discussions of sustainability motivations is posited as the theoretical contribution to knowledge.
 
Counties in Iowa that have a county roadside vegetation manager, an integrated roadside vegetation management (IRVM) plan on file with the Iowa Department of Transportation, and/or plant native seed mixes in their roadsides with seed received through a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant, as of 2021
Responses of engineers (EN) and roadside vegetation managers (RM) to the question “How much impact does each of the following items have on decisions about roadside vegetation management in your county?”
Responses of engineers (EN) and roadside vegetation managers (RM) to the question “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements regarding benefits of IRVM in your county”
Responses of chairs of the county board of supervisors (BS) and conservation board directors (CB) to the question “Which of the following have been or currently are barriers to your county’s implementation of IRVM practices?”
Responses of chairs of the county board of supervisors (BS) and conservation board directors (CB) to the question “Which of the following have been or currently are barriers to your county using more native species in any land management projects?”
Article
Recently the value of roadside vegetation as habitat for pollinators has gained increased attention, particularly in areas dominated by agriculture where there is little native vegetation available. However, many factors, including safety, cost, public perception, erosion control, and weedy plants must be considered when managing roadside vegetation. Although their decisions influence thousands of hectares of public rights-of-way, how engineers and roadside managers maintain roadside vegetation has been the subject of little research. In this study, we surveyed county engineers and roadside managers who manage vegetation along secondary roads in Iowa, USA to assess how they maintain roadside vegetation. Some counties employ roadside managers, who often have an environmental sciences background, to implement the on-the-ground management of roadside vegetation, while some counties use other staff. Compared to engineers, roadside managers more strongly agreed that using the ecological principles of integrated roadside vegetation management (IRVM) provided environmental benefits. Engineers in counties with a roadside manager more strongly agreed that IRVM practices reduce the spread of invasive species and provide attractive roadsides. Both engineers and roadside managers mentioned challenges to managing roadside vegetation, including interference with some native plantings by adjacent landowners, and ranked safety and soil erosion concerns as the highest priorities when making decisions. Four in ten roadside managers said their counties had protected native plant community remnants on secondary roadsides. Our findings can inform conservation outreach efforts to those responsible for managing roadside vegetation, and emphasize the importance of addressing safety and soil erosion concerns in roadside research and communications.
 
Tripartite SLO framework developed from Prno and Slocombe (2012) and Jentoft and Chuenpagdee (2015)
Article
For many natural resource projects, the impact on Indigenous communities is a primary concern. Therefore, governance arrangements that account for the interests of companies, communities, and government are critical for the project’s success. This paper looked at two successful mining projects in northern Canada, McArthur River and Diavik, to examine the governance arrangement that led to mutually beneficial outcomes. Through an analysis of interviews and documents, we assessed both governing institutions and interactions to understand how the respective companies and communities established a high level of trust. In both cases, government took a less prominent role in the management of resources, allowing the Indigenous communities to hold a stronger role in the governance of the resources. Both Indigenous communities, therefore, built partnerships with the company around socio-economic benefits along with environmental monitoring – redefining ‘community’ in governance arrangements.
 
Article
Mining has proven to be a controversial form of resource development throughout the circumpolar north. This article compares two mining projects-the proposed Prosperity gold and copper mine in central British Columbia, Canada and the proposed Kallak iron ore mine in Norrbotten County in northern Sweden-that have endured long and protracted approval processes that have caused tensions and disputes between mining companies, Indigenous peoples, communities and state actors. In an effort understand the particular development paths taken by these two mining projects, this article examines the institutional determinants that structure relationships between industry, Indigenous communities and the state in Canada and Sweden. Using an historical institutionalist theoretical approach, the article focuses on the manner in which the structural features of the political systems and the environmental assessment and permitting processes in both countries have shaped the mine approval process. It also identifies particular critical junctures-important events and decisions that influenced the trajectory of the approval processes in profound and consequential ways. The article finds that institutional determinants, both historical and contemporary, have played a critical role in determining outcomes in both cases. In particular, it demonstrates the ways in which the structures of the Canadian and Swedish political systems have historically excluded Indigenous peoples from the decision-making process for resource development projects such as mines. It also shows how broader institutional contexts, as well as specific events and decisions, have complicated and politicized the mine approval processes, a situation that has heightened tensions on all sides.
 
Location of the study area and main activities developed in the region of Paranagua
Article
Environmental Education Programs (EEPs) are considered environmental management tools in Brazilian environmental licensing processes, within the scope of mitigatory and compensatory measures to the social, environmental, and economic impacts caused by development projects or new enterprises. Here, we assess the perceptions and expectations regarding environmental education programs of three groups of actors (communities, environmental managers, and environmental agency technicians) involved in the licensing processes of port activities in the region of Paranaguá, in the State of Paraná, Brazil. Paranaguá is the largest coastal municipality of the state of Paraná, in the southern region of Brazil, and is home to Brazil`s second largest port. Since this is environmental conservation area, the conflicts between the port activities, environmental protection and needs of the local communities require efficient environmental management practices, with EEPs as one of their main implementation tools. The evaluation was based on semi-structured interviews which were analyzed using the methods of content analysis and discourse of the collective subject. The actors understand that environmental education is a potentially effective tool to promote the mitigation or compensation of environmental impacts generated by port developments undergoing licensing processes. The groups considered that the continuity, promotion of social organization, and correlation with the actual environmental impacts related to each enterprise are essential qualities for good EEPs. The evaluated perceptions were complementary and indicate a complex but effective ideal scenario for EEPs in the region.
 
Article
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is recognized as important to fostering sustainable natural resource development in the Circumpolar North. Governments are playing an increasingly active role in promoting and shaping CSR initiatives, often in collaboration with Indigenous communities and industry. This paper explores the role of CSR in mining for improving socio-economic and environmental management practice. The article argues that government instituted regulations can lead to the development and implementation of CSR practices by mining companies. To examine the relationship between government requirements and CSR, we use two Northern case studies: Cameco Corporation’s uranium mining operations located in Saskatchewan, Canada and Northern Iron’s iron mining operation located in Troms and Finnmark county, Norway. Through an in-depth review of scholarly literature, document analysis, and semi-structured interviews, our findings suggest that the role of the state in the initiation and implementation of CSR is of much greater importance than is currently acknowledged in the literature. In the case of Cameco, the Mine Surface Lease Agreements agreed to by the corporation and the provincial government provided motivation for the development and implementation of their world-renowned CSR practices, resulting in a community-based environmental monitoring program and benefits for both the company and surrounding communities. With Northern Iron’s operations in Kirkenes, working hour requirements instituted by the Norwegian Government allowed for significantly higher levels of local employment. Our findings suggest a greater role exists for government to facilitate the adoption of CSR policies, contributing in turn to improved socio-economic and environmental outcomes for Northern communities.
 
a Segmented regression of specific growth rate (standardized to a maximum of 1) as a function of dissolved oxygen, averaged across 30 species. The average breakpoint value (Gcrit) is 5.11 mg/l dissolved oxygen (4.5–5.7 mg/l 95% confidence interval). Open circles represent the mean standardized growth for individual oxygen treatments, grey lines are 95% confidence intervals. b Segmented regressions of specific growth rate on dissolved oxygen for 38 studies; green lines repesent freshwater fish species, blue are marine taxa, and broken lines are salmonids
a Segmented regression of food consumption (standardized to a maximum of 1) as a function of dissolved oxygen averaged across 16 species. The average breakpoint value (Ccrit) is 5.67 mg/l dissolved oxygen (4.9–6.4 mg/l 95% confidence interval). Open circles represent the mean standardized consumption for individual oxygen treatments, grey lines are 95% confidence intervals, and the black broken line represents the growth vs. dissolved oxygen regression from Fig. 1a. b Segmented regressions of food consumption for 19 studies; green lines repersent freshwater fish species, blue are marine taxa, and broken lines are salmonids
Positive relationship (R² = 0. 50, P = 0.002) between the breakpoint for growth (Gcrit) and consumption (Ccrit). Dotted line indicates a 1:1 relationship
a Scatterplots and regressions showing a reduction in Gcrit with increasing upper temperature tolerance (Tmax) for 28 species of fish; and an increase in Gcrit with greater maximum observed depth of occurrence of a species (b), greater maximum body length (c), or greater weight of fish used in the study (d). Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals around point estimates
Article
Control of hypoxia is a key element of water quality management, and guidelines are usually based on qualitative reviews of hypoxia impacts. In this study we use segmented regression to identify both thresholds for growth reduction and rate of decline of fish growth and food consumption under hypoxia; and then evaluate whether current freshwater guidelines for dissolved oxygen based on qualitative reviews are consistent with the quantitative analysis of hypoxia thresholds. Segmented regressions were fit to data from published growth-hypoxia studies for freshwater (N = 17) and marine fishes (N = 13). To understand potential drivers of hypoxia tolerance, we also modelled thresholds as simple functions of environmental and ecological covariates for each species including trophic level, marine vs. freshwater environment, maximum fish length, fish weight, and maximum temperature tolerance. The average threshold for growth reduction (Gcrit; 5.1 mg·l⁻¹ DO) and decreased food consumption (Ccrit = 5.6 mg·l⁻¹ DO) were not significantly different, and did not differ between marine and freshwater taxa. However, salmonids showed a significantly steeper decline in growth with increasing hypoxia relative to other taxa. Growth declined by 22% for every mg·l⁻¹ reduction in DO below average Gcrit, and significant regressions indicate that warmwater (R² = 0.25) and smaller-bodied (R² = 0.44) species are more likely to be hypoxia tolerant. Observed mean Gcrit and Ccrit in the range of 5–6 mg·l⁻¹ broadly match minimum water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life in freshwater in representative industrialized countries. However, this is much higher than the definition of hypoxia typically used in marine systems (2–2.5 mg·l⁻¹), indicating a need to reconcile definition of hypoxia in the marine environment with empirical data. The principal challenge in freshwater hypoxia management is now translating discretionary guidelines into effective regulatory frameworks to reduce the incidence and severity of hypoxia.
 
Article
Floating treatment wetlands (FTWs) are a management method to improve urban rivers, but most studies have been carried out at laboratory, micro, and meso levels, so it is necessary to study full-scale FTWs as a method to improve urban water bodies. In this experiment, the purification effects of water temperature (WT), dissolved oxygen (DO), ammonia nitrogen (NH4⁺-N), nitrate nitrogen (NO3⁻-N), total phosphorus (TP), chemical oxygen demand (CODMn), and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) under staggered arrangement (SA) and centered arrangement (CA) were evaluated. It was found that the DO concentration and removal rate of CODMn, Chl-a, and TP in the SA were significantly higher than those in the CA in months with heavy rainfall. However, interestingly, for TP, August showed the opposite trend. The removal rates of NH4⁺-N and NO3⁻-N were significantly different throughout the test period. The biomass growth values of shoots and roots of plants in the FTWs were 0.40 ± 0.03 kg/m² and 1.38 ± 0.07 kg/m² in the SA and 0.32 ± 0.07 kg/m² and 1.26 ± 0.30 kg/m² in the CA. The increments of N absorbed by plants in the SA and CA were 7.08 ± 0.49 g/kg and 6.83 ± 0.07 g/kg, respectively, and the increments of P were 0.57 ± 0.02 g/kg and 0.32 ± 0.07 g/kg, respectively, which indicated that the growth status of plants in the FTWs in the SA was slightly better than that in the CA. In summary, the hybrid-constructed FTWs of both arrangements can effectively improve the water quality of urban rivers, and the effect of the SA was greater than that of the CA. The purification effect of in situ tests under different arrangement modes of hybrid-constructed FTWs was evaluated, which provides guidance and support for the field layout of FTWs in rivers in the future.
 
Map of counties in WA, with shaded study cases; dotted line divides the eastern and western parts of the state
Article
Hazard mitigation plans can support communities’ resilience in the context of natural hazards and climate change. The quality of these plans can be evaluated using established indicators; however, research is also needed regarding the perceptions of participants in planning processes, to understand aspects of the planning processes that may not be evident in the plan documents. This study builds on previously reported plan quality scores and survey data, to investigate whether selected collaboration dynamics (principled engagement and capacity for joint action) occurred during counties’ hazard planning processes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 hazard planning professionals who were involved in preparing county-level hazard mitigation plans in Washington State, USA. Findings (for cases with both high- and low-scoring plans) include evidence of collaboration dynamics, although important participants (e.g., members of the local community) were reportedly missing from some planning processes, raising concerns about the extent to which the plans reflect local needs. These results are consistent with previous literature, which has demonstrated that members of the public often view hazard mitigation as inaccessible and disconnected from their daily lives. The paper concludes with recommendations for how practitioners might go about bolstering participation from important participants, potentially leading to higher-quality plans and helping to protect communities from hazards.
 
Location of wire tree guards in Saskatoon’s manicured and natural river parks, as installed by City management staff, in relation to the location of active beaver lodges
Examples of the four materials used in wire mesh tree guard construction in the City of Saskatoon. Type i is wire fencing with a 2 × 2 inch (50 × 50 mm) square mesh size; type ii is wire fencing (elk fence) with a 2 × 6 inch (100 × 150 mm) rectangular mesh size; type iii is chain link fence with a 2 × 2 inch (50 × 50 mm) diamond mesh size; type iv wire poultry netting with a 1 inch (25 mm) hexagonal mesh size
The distribution of diameters of trees outfitted with guards and trees with guards that were cut by beavers
Article
Beavers are expanding into cities as they recolonize their historic range. While they increase the ecological functioning of urban green areas, human-beaver conflicts occur. Public support to deal with conflicts has shifted from population to forage control. Tree guards are becoming popular with management personnel in North America and Europe to reduce damage to valuable trees. The problem is that this management technique has not been studied. We inventoried the tree guard types in use in natural and manicured river parks in the City of Saskatoon, Canada, determined their adherence to an installation protocol by measuring guard dimensions, and assessed the relative effectiveness of guards in protecting trees from beaver cutting. The inventory revealed that four types of tree guards are in use, ranging from light gauge chicken wire to heavy gauge chain link fencing. Overall, 11% of the trees with guards that we inventoried were cut by beavers, but variation among guard types was observed. Less than 10% of trees with type i and ii guards were beaver cut whereas 17% of trees with types iii and iv guards were beaver cut. Fewer trees were cut when there was adherence to installation protocol, regardless of guard type. Cut trees with guard types i, iii and iv experienced both minor and major damage whereas cut trees with guard type ii experienced only minor damage. The study results have implications for developing effectiveness and implementation monitoring plans for tree guards as part of an overall beaver management plan.
 
Study areas in Nepal showing areas and dates sampled. A Sagarmatha National Park. B Annapurna Conservation Area. Locations outside of study sites, and the dates visited, shown for illustrative purposes only
Article
Impacts on households from large carnivores are frequently reported in the conservation literature, but conflicts between households and large carnivore conservation are not. Employing a human-wildlife coexistence framework that distinguishes between human-wildlife impacts on one hand, and human-conservation conflicts on the other, this paper presents data from Annapurna Conservation Area and Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Nepal, each with different models of conservation governance. Using systematic sampling, quantitative information from 705 households was collected via questionnaires, while 70 semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants for cross-methods triangulation. 7.7% of households reported conflicts with snow leopard conservation in the previous 12 months, primarily due to damage to livelihoods; these were significantly higher in the Annapurna region. 373 livestock were reported lost by households to snow leopards in the previous 12 months, representing 3.4% of total livestock owned and US$ 132,450 in financial value. Livestock losses were significantly lower in the Everest area. In linear regression models, total household livestock losses to all sources best explained conflicts with snow leopard conservation and household livestock losses to snow leopards but the models for the former dependent variable had very low explanatory power. Conservation in general, and large carnivore conservation in particular, should distinguish carefully between impacts caused by coexistence with these species and conflicts with conservation actors and over the methods and interventions used to conserve carnivores, especially where these negatively impact local livelihoods. In addition, livestock husbandry standards are highlighted again as an important factor in the success of carnivore conservation programmes.
 
Article
There has been considerable brownfield development in the UK since 2000 due to increasing demand for new housing, combined with local opposition to building on greenbelt land. To facilitate this, extensive site investigations have been carried out and the reports submitted to local government as part of the planning process. This research investigates whether this largely untapped resource of site investigation data can be used to improve understanding of potentially toxic elements (PTE) and persistent organic pollutants (POP) at a local scale. The PTE/POP data were extracted from 1707 soil samples across 120 brownfield sites in an urban/suburban region. The samples were analysed to determine the effect of site location, historical use and site age on PTE/POP concentrations. Box plots indicating statistical results together with GIS maps of PTE/POP sample data provided the optimal visualisation of results. The dataset was shown to be a valuable resource, although further exploitation would be enhanced by digitisation of the submitted data. The paper explores potential applications of this data, including background concentrations and anthropogenic enrichment factors for PTE/POP. The results were summarised in a table for the PTE/POP and a preliminary risk assessment process chart to inform developers/regulators on potential PTE/POP levels on brownfield sites on a local scale. This information could focus design and resources for developers for site investigations and risk assessments and improve planning and regulatory guidance. The lack of predictability in PTE/POP results across sites have emphasised the ongoing need for intrusive site investigation on new brownfield developments.
 
Article
Ecosystem health (EH) is important for ensuring sustainable development, and the main goal of environmental protection and governance, especially for ecological fragile areas. Scientific assessment of EH can improve decision-making ability and inform sustainable development. In this paper, the effects of natural and social environment were integrated to reflect the characteristics of EH based on a comprehensive assessment system including ecosystem vigor (EV), ecosystem organization (EO), ecosystem resilience (ER), and the ratio of supply to demand of ecosystem services (ESDR) from the perspectives of ecological integrity and human demand for ecosystem services (ES). The Entire-Array-Polygon (EAP) method was applied to calculate an ecosystem health index (EHI) and analyze spatio-temporal change from 2000 to 2020 in Hexi Corridor (HC), Northwest China. The results showed that: (1) The spatial distribution of EV, EO, ER, and ESDR was generally consistent, with a low spatial distribution in the northwest and high in the southeast, the values showed an overall increasing trend from 2000 to 2020. (2) The spatial distribution of EHI was high in the northwest and central regions, and low in the southwest, reflected a moderate health level. The proportion of area with well and relatively well health was increasing, which indicated that EH showed an improving trend. (3) The significantly decrease areas of EHI were mainly located in urban areas, and the increases areas were mainly located outside of urban areas. The distribution of the EH condition has obvious orientation characteristics. The results of the study provide theoretical and practical implications for regional ecological conservation and management.
 
Media lunas on the landscape diagram. This diagram demonstrates the role of a media luna on the landscape. Sheet erosion is slowed by the luna and with the slowing is deposition in the catchment area of soil, organic matter, seeds, and moisture (as water can percolate better when slowed). As the flow is caught and slowed by the luna, water is redistributed in the drainage area of the luna. Flower and grass drawings by Xingwen Loy
Photos of the media lunas in study. These photos represent two of the media lunas in this study. We show a photo of the lunas during a dry period (Jan/Feb; top photo) and after monsoon rains (July/Sept; bottom photo)
Cover results. Presented are the boxplots for vegetation and litter cover across treatments and luna location (different colors). ‘X’s’ are the mean values whereas the boxplot demonstrates the median and quantiles. See Fig. A2 in Appendix A for vegetation results split by functional group
Prokaryotic and fungal richness. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordination of prokaryotic (bacteria and archaea, left; stress = 0.1780) and fungal (right; stress = 0.2674) soil communities. Bray-Curtis distance metric was used prior to ordination. Also presented are the boxplots for numbers of different amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) for (bacteria and archaea) (left), and fungal (right) communities for each treatment and luna location (different colors). Sequence counts were rarefied to 13,000 and 6000, respectively. ‘X’s’ are the mean values whereas the boxplot demonstrates the median and quantiles. See Figs. A4 and A5 for results by different groups
Seedling results. Matrix displaying differences between treatment and location combinations. To read the figure, find a combination on the x-axis and compare it to the y-axis. Red colors note that the x-axis has fewer seedlings than the y-axis; blue colors note more seedlings than y-axis. If there is a black box surrounding the grid, this means that the difference is significant (α = 0.05)
Article
Grasslands are essential natural and agricultural ecosystems that encompass over one-third of global lands. However, land conversion and poor management have caused losses of these systems which contributed to a 10% reduction of net primary production, a 4% increase in carbon emissions, and a potential loss of US $42 billion a year. It is, therefore, important to restore, enhance and conserve these grasslands to sustain natural plant communities and the livelihoods of those that rely on them. We installed low cost rock structures (media lunas) to assess their ability to restore grasslands by slowing water flow, reducing erosion and improving plant establishment. Our treatments included sites with small and large rock structures that were seeded with a native seed mix as well as sites with no seed or rock and sites with only seed addition. We collected summer percent cover for plants, litter, and rock and spring seedling count data. We also collected soil for nutrient, moisture, and microbial analysis. Within the first year, we found no change in plant cover between rock structures of two rock sizes. We did find, however, an increase in soil moisture, litter, fungal richness, and spring seedling germination within the rock structures, despite a historic drought. This work demonstrates that rock structures can positively impact plants and soils of grasslands even within the first year. Our results suggest that managers should seriously consider employing these low-cost structures to increase short-term plant establishment and possibly, soil health, in grasslands.
 
Article
While knowledge of the ecological impacts of marine debris is continually advancing, methods to evaluate the comparative scale of these impacts are less well developed. In the case of costly environmental restoration in marine and coastal environments, quantifying and comparing the ecological impacts of diverse forms of ecosystem injuries can facilitate a more efficient selection of restoration projects. This article proposes evaluating marine debris removal projects in an ecological service equivalency analysis framework that can be used to compare marine debris removal to other types of environmental restoration. Drawing on existing spatial and temporal data with respect to marine debris impacts on habitats and resources, we demonstrate how resource managers and organizations involved in marine debris removal can quantify the ecological service benefits of a removal project and use it to comparatively select between projects based on present value ecological benefits. This valuation can be useful in natural resource damage assessment restoration selection, and for directing limited funds to marine debris removal projects which produce the greatest gains in ecological services. This ecological scaling framework is applied to a seagrass injury case study to demonstrate its application for scaling marine debris removal as compensatory restoration.
 
The mean scores and standard deviations of the agreement to the statements subsumed under the categories of four domains, namely general benefits (GB), specific benefits (SB), negative issues (NI), and promotion policies (PP). Note: Scores of agreement: 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = agree to some extent; 4 = agree; and 5 = strongly agree. The circle size corresponds to the mean score of agreement, with bars representing the standard deviation. Please refer to Table 2 for the meaning of the category and statement codes
The respondents have been classified by cluster analysis into three distinct groups depicted in relation to the category mean scores and standard deviations of the agreement to the statements subsumed under the categories of four domains, namely general benefits (GB), specific benefits (SB), negative issues (NI), and promotion policies (PP). Note: Scores of agreement: 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = agree to some extent; 4 = agree; and 5 = strongly agree. Bars represent the standard deviation. Please refer to Table 2 for the meaning of the category codes
The category mean scores and standard deviations of the agreement to the statements subsumed under the categories of four domains, namely general benefits (GB), specific benefits (SB), negative issues (NI), and promotion policies (PP), depicted by five key socio-demographic factors. Note: Scores of agreement: 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = agree to some extent; 4 = agree; and 5 = strongly agree. Bars represent standard deviation. Please refer to Table 2 for the meaning of the category codes. Only the results of socio-demographic factors having significant relationship with at least one of the categories are shown. The * indicates that significant difference between socio-demographic groups is detected by the Kruskal-Wallis test. The results of pairwise comparisons by Wilcoxon signed-rank test are shown in Table 4
The mosaic plots showing the relationships of the three respondent clusters (A: apathetic, P: passionate, M: moderate) vis-à-vis two socio-demographic factors (income and housing type) and two neighborhood greening attitudes (satisfaction level and willingness to pay). Note: Only the results of the socio-demographic factors having significant relationship with the clusters are shown. The color and box border represent the level of standardized residual and its respective sign, as indicated by the legend
Article
Many cities advocate retrofitting green roofs and green walls (GRGW) to create additional green areas, especially in cramped urban areas. Yet, worldwide, only a handful of studies have evaluated the public views towards the benefits and negative issues and promotion policies of this innovative greening option. To address this gap in the literature, we conducted a survey (N = 500) of residents’ opinions towards GRGW in Tokyo, a city with mandatory installation of GRGW for almost two decades. Respondents mostly agreed with the contribution of GRGW to thermal comfort, air quality, and cityscape but weakly endorsed other potential benefits. High costs as well as mosquitoes and plant litter nuisances were the most recognized negative issues. Mandatory installation was the least preferred promotion policy. Instead, respondents expected installation on public buildings and provision of installation guidance. Respondents predominantly held a “moderate” view towards both the benefits and negative issues, showing indifferent attitudes towards GRGW. Income level and housing type shaped the overall perceptions, whereas age, sex, and current living environment influenced perceptions of individual aspects. Our findings signified a need for a bottom-up strategy to heighten public awareness for the advanced development of GRGW to complement and prime the top-down mandatory installation policy.
 
Sampling sites in the Huaijiu River
The cluster analysis of 60 sampling sites
The typical representation of different reaches. a natural reaches; b near-natural reaches; c artificial bank plant reaches; d artificial bank ornamental plant reaches; e artificial bank sparse plant dry-stone reaches; f artificial bank masonry reaches
The distribution of sampling sites health grade in Huaijiu River
Article
Dominant functions usually vary greatly in different reaches of mountainous rivers and are influenced by different adjacent land uses. Assessing river health based on dominant functions is of great practical value to river management. To reveal the health status of different reaches in Beijing’s northern mountainous rivers, 60 investigated plots (river length 38.1 km) were surveyed in 2016 in the Huaijiu River, which is a typical mountainous river in northern Beijing, and a hierarchy-comprehensive analysis method was employed. Based on the degree of human influences, the Huaijiu River could be classified into six types, including natural reaches, near-natural reaches, artificial bank plant reaches, artificial bank ornamental plant reaches, artificial bank sparse plant dry-stone reaches and artificial bank masonry reaches. The river health assessment index system was established based on flood control, landscape, hydrology and water quality, and ecological functions. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was used to determine the weights of the function layer and indicator layer. The assessment results showed that healthy, subhealthy, slightly damaged, damaged and severely damaged plots accounted for 20.0%, 26.7%, 26.7%, 15.0% and 11.6% of the total plots, respectively. In summary, all plots in natural reaches, artificial bank plant reaches and artificial bank ornamental plant reaches were either healthy, subhealthy or slightly damaged. Plots in artificial bank masonry reaches were either subhealthy, slightly damaged, damaged or severely damaged, accounting for 9.1%, 27.3%, 27.3% and 36.4% of the total plots, respectively. The study proposed a method to assess mountainous river health based on dominant functions, which is a multiobjective approach and is not based solely on natural river functions. The assessment method is appropriate for the socioeconomic development and management of river basins.
 
Article
Climate change and human activities are closely linked with the nutrient accumulation in sediments, but the role of influence factors and the driving mechanisms are unclear. Here, by using the generalized additive model (GAM), we investigated the contributions and driving mechanisms of climate change and human activities on TON, TN, and TP accumulation in sediments of typical lakes in the Huai River basin (Nansi Lake and Hongze Lake) from 1988 to 2018. The impacts of factors, such as air temperature (AT), real GDP per capita (GDP), population density (PD), crop sown area (CSA), artificial impervious area (AIA), and domestic sewage discharge (DSD) were considered in this study. The results of the multivariate GAM showed that the sediment variables were significantly affected by climate change in Nansi Lake, but not in Hongze Lake. AT and DSD contributed the most to the variation of sediment TOC in Nansi Lake, while the most critical factors affecting TN and TP were AT, PD and DSD. PD and CSA showed strong ability to explain the change of TOC in Hongze Lake, while CSA and DSD showed strong ability to explain the variations of TN and TP. The results show that the selected optimal multivariate GAM can well quantify the effects of climate change and human activities on nutrient enrichment in lake sediments. Effective recommendations are provided for decision-makers in developing water quality management plans to prevent eutrophication outbreaks in lake waters by targeting and controlling key factors.
 
Criteria hierarchy for sustainable management of fisheries
Article
In this paper, a sustainability framework with a case application for UK’s Scottish fisheries has been developed which integrates aspects related to economic growth, social development, governance, biology, environment, and logistics. Scotland is the centre of UK’s commercial fishery sector however it faces challenges such as overexploitation, and changes in the governance structure following Brexit. The contributions of this study are threefold including (i) collecting and analysing primary data gathered from a diverse group of stakeholders in the Scottish fishery sector and scientific community, (ii) prioritising a diverse range of criteria in terms of importance in decision making from industry and scientific community perspectives, (iii) elaboration of the key management objectives in this region within the context of sustainable management of fisheries in the UK. The results of this stakeholders’ survey show that the key management objectives are reductions in overexploitation of stocks, inclusive governance, increase in transparency and simplicity of policy measures, reduction in marine litter, and increase in the efficiency of vessels. The analysis also shows that the industry group places a higher importance on socio-economic objectives such as increase in profit and employment compared to the scientific group. On the other hand, the scientific group prioritised the objectives such as reducing discards, bycatch, and impact on seafloor compared to the industry group. This study provides insight for the UK’s fisheries sector, and scientific advisory groups for the enhanced implementation of sustainable fisheries management policies.
 
Article
Present-day spatial patterns of urban tree canopy (UTC) are created by complex interactions between various human and biophysical drivers; thus, urban forests represent legacies of past processes. Understanding these legacies can inform municipal tree planting and canopy cover goals while also addressing urban sustainability and inequity. We examined historical UTC cover patterns and the processes that formed them in the cities of Chelsea and Holyoke, Massachusetts using a mixed methods approach. Combining assessments of delineated UTC from aerial photos with historical archival data, we show how biophysical factors and cycles of governance and urban development and decay have influenced the spatiotemporal dynamics of UTC. The spatially explicit UTC layers generated from this research track historical geographic tree distribution and dynamic change over a 62-year period (1952–2014). An inverse relationship was found between UTC and economic prosperity: while canopy gains occurred in depressed economic periods, canopy losses occurred in strong economic periods. A sustainable increase of UTC is needed to offset ongoing losses and overcome historical legacies that have suppressed UTC across decades. These findings will inform future research on residential canopy formation and stability, but most importantly, they reveal how historical drivers can be used to inform multi-decadal UTC assessments and the creation of targeted, feasible UTC goals at neighborhood and city scales. Such analyses can help urban natural resource managers to better understand how to protect and expand their cities’ UTC over time for the benefit of all who live in and among the shade of urban forests.
 
Article
Coastal communities face increasingly difficult decisions about responses to climate change. Armoring and defending the coast are being revealed as ineffective in terms of outcomes and cost, particularly in rural areas. Nature-based options include approaches that make space for coastal dynamism (e.g., through managed retreat) or leverage ecosystem services such as erosion control (e.g., by restoring coastal wetlands). Resistance can be strong to these alternatives to hard infrastructure. Nova Scotia, off Canada’s Atlantic coast, is a vulnerable coastal jurisdiction facing such decisions. The emerging climax thinking framework was used to design 14 experimental online focus groups. These focus groups explored how three priming treatments influenced discussions about adaptation options and urgency and quantitative pre/post-tests, compared with information-only control treatments. A future-focused priming strategy seemed most effective since it fostered discussions about duties to future generations. The altruism-focused priming strategy involved reflections of wartime mobilization and more recent collective action. It also worked but was more difficult to implement and potentially higher risk. Past-focused priming was counterproductive. Further research should test the future-focused and altruism-focused strategies among larger groups and in different jurisdictions, reducing some of the biases in our sample.
 
Study area with mapped survey respondents’ locations
The relationship between life satisfaction (sLQ) and water quality where (a) water quality is objectively measured (residuals between fDOM and salinity), and where (b) water quality is assessed by the respondents. The models take into account income, health, education, age, gender, relationship with property (rent/own) of the respondents, and importance of natural benefits for them (see Table 2 and Table 3 for statistics). The values of life satisfaction and subjective water quality are weighted according to the population structure
The interaction between income level and water quality assessed by the respondents, and its effect on life satisfaction (see Table 2 for statistics). The values of life satisfaction and subjective water quality are weighted according to the population structure
Article
Most studies of life quality are concentrated on a country-level scale, while local differences within a country or area are less studied. Thus, the effect of the environment on life quality on a local scale remains understudied and is often represented by one generalized common factor. In this study, we investigated the effect of an objectively measured environmental quality variable and subjective reflections of this (perceptions of environmental quality) in relation to life quality in a coastal community. Hence, we tested the effect of objective and subjective water quality measures using a model, accounting for other traditional variables (e.g., income and health) that predict life quality variations. Our findings indicate that perceptions of the environment are strongly associated with life quality, whereas objectively measured environmental quality is associated with life quality to a lesser extent. Thus, our results suggest that the impact of the environment on life quality is mediated via the way the environment is perceived (psychological effects) and less by the actual conditions of the environment.
 
Gross domestic product, Gini index (source: World Bank) and (*) period of the study considering the change in the stringency index (source: Hale et al. 2020) up to 6 months, for the selected countries (blue: Latin American countries; green: African countries; red: European countries; yellow: Asian countries; grey: Oceania countries)
Relative frequencies of news items classified in each category as total and for individual countries
Principal component analysis where variable scores are represented by blue lines (indices) and red lines (news categories). Countries are categorized into 4 groups (differentiated by colored symbols) obtained via WPGMA cluster analysis. IES Invasive/Exotic Species, R&D Research and Development: FFS Flora and Fauna Sighting, UNR Use of Natural Resources; AFW Agriculture, Food and Water; GDP Gross domestic product; Gini, Gini index
Significant correlations between indices and news categories extracted from the Pearson matrix (Table S6). Red line: negative correlations; blue line: positive correlations; green circles: news categories; black circles: socioeconomic and pandemic severity indicators
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a pause in people’s activities and a socio-economic crisis worldwide due to confinement. This situation is an unprecedented opportunity to understand how these changes may impact biodiversity and its conservation, as well as to study human-nature interaction. Biodiversity plays an essential role in conservation and economic activities, and in countries with greater inequality and low gross domestic product (GDP), biodiversity could have a low priority. Moreover, how biodiversity is prioritized in a society impacts how the citizens view it, and digital news tends to shape biodiversity narratives. The aim of this work was to determine the main trends in biodiversity-related news categories during the COVID-19 pandemic in countries with terrestrial and marine hotspots and relate them to the socioeconomic and public health context of each country. For this, we searched for news on biodiversity and Covid-19 in the first 6 months of the pandemic and related them to GDP, Gini-index, deaths, and infections by Covid-19. Results showed that conservation, public policies, and use of natural resources stood out as the main news categories across countries, with a positive narrative and mostly related to terrestrial rather than marine environments. On the other hand, the socio-economic and public health characteristics of each country had an influence on which aspect of the biodiversity was reflected in the media. For example, countries with greater inequality were associated with tourism news, additionally, countries with low GDP, high cases, and deaths by Covid-19 were associated with news about cultural diversity. In contrast, countries with high GDP and low inequality were associated with news about zoonosis, research and development, public policies, and alien and invasive species.
 
The location of Nansi Lake in the basin and land use and cover of Weishan County
Example of a choice set
Compensating surplus for each scenario
Article
Lake regions face a tradeoff between water environmental conservation and social development. Although lake conservation projects along with eco-compensation policies are considered the solutions to this problem, it is often controversial and unsustainable. Therefore, it is essential to understand the key stakeholders’ willingness to participate in lake conservation projects under the different compensation schemes. In this work, we conducted a choice experiment to estimate fishermen’s willingness and preference for the returning fishponds to lake (RFTL) project in the Nansi Lake Nature Reserve (NLNR). Socioeconomic, perception and spatial factors are employed to analyze the preference heterogeneity of fishermen. We employed conditional logit, mixed logit and latent class models to estimates the parameters of factor variables considering the heterogeneous preferences and choice randomness across respondents. The results indicate that on average, fishermen are unwilling to change the status quo and are most concerned about the subsidy amount and contract duration in compensation contracts. However, there is obvious spatial heterogeneity in fishermen’s choice preference, mainly manifested in their habitation distance to a town and fishpond location in different zones of the NLNR. Specifically, perceptions of supply and demand for water yield and water quality services significantly influence fishermen’s choice, but they have opposite effects. Moreover, we estimated marginal willingness to accept (MWTA) of attributes in compensation contract and measured compensating surplus (CS) to compare different eco-compensation policy scenarios. Our results contribute to designing targeted payment policies, and promote the effective implementation of lake conservation projects and regional sustainable development.
 
The Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) includes the main stem Mississippi River between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Cairo, Illinois, and the entire Illinois River. The UMRS is commonly viewed from multiple scales including the floodplain reach scale (color coded; USACE 2011) and navigation pool/open river reach scale (labeled). Long-Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) reaches are outlined in black
An overview of the three phases of the ecological resilience assessment of the Upper Mississippi River System. The assessment began with the system description (A). The assessing the system phase (B) included analyses on general and specified resilience and was informed by an evaluation of desirability of current conditions. The management implications (C) aim to integrate resilience assessment results into decision-making frameworks while also continuing to learn about resilience mechanisms and future trajectories
A synthesis of 12 indicators of general resilience applied to four floodplain reaches (i.e., Upper Impounded Reach, Lower Impounded Reach, Unimpounded Reach, and Illinois River Reach) of the Upper Mississippi River System. All indicator values were transformed to z-scores for each indicator at the pool scale then averaged by floodplain reach and rescaled to reflect assumed contributions to general resilience. For each indicator, values near the center reflect lower contributions to general resilience and values near the edge reflect greater contributions. Adapted from Bouska et al. (2019)
A visualization for how information derived from an ecological resilience assessment can be used in selection of whether to resist change, accept change, or direct change. Resist strategies are most ecologically feasible when the ecosystem is already in a desired state, far from known thresholds, and has relatively high general resilience. Direct strategies are more appropriate and feasible when known thresholds cannot be managed for and an ecosystem has moderate to high general resilience. Accept strategies are the most appropriate when the adaptability of ecosystems is limited by low general resilience
Article
As anthropogenic influences push ecosystems past tipping points and into new regimes, complex management decisions are complicated by rapid ecosystem changes that may be difficult to reverse. For managers who grapple with how to manage ecosystems under novel conditions and heightened uncertainty, advancing our understanding of regime shifts is paramount. As part of an ecological resilience assessment, researchers and managers have collaborated to identify alternate regimes and build an understanding of the thresholds and factors that govern regime shifts in the Upper Mississippi River System. To describe the management implications of our assessment, we integrate our findings with the recently developed resist-accept-direct (RAD) framework that explicitly acknowledges ecosystem regime change and outlines management approaches of resisting change, accepting change, or directing change. More specifically, we developed guidance for using knowledge of desirability of current conditions, distance to thresholds, and general resilience (that is, an ecosystem’s capacity to cope with uncertain disturbances) to navigate the RAD framework. We applied this guidance to outline strategies that resist, accept, or direct change in the context of management of aquatic vegetation, floodplain vegetation, and fish communities across nearly 2000 river kilometers. We provide a case study for how knowledge of ecological dynamics can aid in assessing which management approach(es) are likely to be most ecologically feasible in a changing world. Continued learning from management decisions will be critical to advance our understanding of how ecosystems respond and inform the management of ecosystems for desirable and resilient outcomes.
 
Article
Growing sustainability demands on land have a high knowledge requirement across multiple scientific domains. Exploring networks can expose opportunities for targeting. Using mixed-methods combining social network analysis (SNA) and surveys, networks for key soil functions in case studies in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands are explored. We find a diversity of contrasting networks that reflect local conditions, sustainability challenges and governance structure. Farmers were found to occupy a central role in the agri-environmental governance network. A comparison of the SNA and survey results indicate low acceptance of messages from many central actors indicating scope to better harness the network for sustainable land management. The source of the messages was important when it came to the implementation of farm management actions. Two pathways for enhanced farmer uptake of multi-functionality are proposed that have wider application are; to increase trust between farmers and actors that are agents of multi-functional messages and/or to increase the bundling or multi-functionality of messages (mandate) of actors trusted by farmers.
 
Fisheries ecosystem stewardship model
Map of sites
Fisheries Ecosystem Stewardship Index model
Fisheries Ecosystem Stewardship Index results by site
Article
Fisheries compliance has been explored conceptually and empirically in numerous contexts but in many fisheries, compliance with rules is not sufficient to return to sustainable levels of effort. Failing to understand the context and what drives fishers to behave the way they do, has the potential to misdirect investments. The authors present a conceptual model of fisheries ecosystem stewardship (FES) that expands upon fisheries compliance with the addition of moral obligation for fishing communities. This paper uses household survey data from fishing communities in three marine key biodiversity areas (MKBA) in the Philippines to test part of the FES model using logistic regression and multiple regression analysis with empirical data to test the model. Data shows that apart from the respondents’ location (i.e., which MKBA is adjacent to their community), knowledge of laws protecting coastal/marine resources was the most important predictor of environmental stewardship, followed by support for limiting fishing effort and knowledge of illegal fishing. Individual decisions about if and how-to fish are influenced by the economic context and available livelihood opportunities. However, the moral obligation to “do the right thing” is equally, if not more important to consider for fisheries ecosystem stewardship in fishing communities.
 
Top-cited authors
Ole Mertz
  • University of Copenhagen
Paul J. Wood
  • Loughborough University
Patrick Desmond Armitage
  • Freshwater Biological Association
Cheikh Mbow
  • Centre de Suivi Ecologique
Awa Diouf
  • Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar