Kai Ming Adam Chan

Kai Ming Adam Chan
University of British Columbia - Vancouver | UBC · Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)

PhD, Princeton University

About

264
Publications
165,084
Reads
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21,391
Citations
Introduction
Kai Chan is a professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES), University of British Columbia. Kai does research in Sustainability Science, Ecosystem Services, Social-Ecological Systems, Human Dimensions of Conservation, Applied Ecology, weaving throughout Environmental Values and Valuation (especially Relational Values). His core training is in ecology, evolutionary biology and ethics, but since 2005 he has developed capacity in interdisciplinary social sciences.
Additional affiliations
July 2010 - July 2016
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2009 - December 2012
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • University of British Columbia
September 2003 - July 2005
Stanford University

Publications

Publications (264)
Article
Full-text available
Despite increasing attention to the human dimension of conservation projects, a rigorous, systematic methodology for planning for ecosystem services has not been developed. This is in part because flows of ecosystem services remain poorly characterized at local-to-regional scales, and their protection has not generally been made a priority. We used...
Article
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Ecological forecasts are increasingly seen as central to integrated management. However, to use such predictions, decision-makers require some understanding of how likely the forecasts are—or at least how likely one is over another. This cannot be achieved without considering model assumptions and their associated uncertainties. To illustrate, we f...
Article
Scientists are increasingly called upon to engage in policy formulation, but the literature on engagement is strong on speculation and weak on evidence. Using a survey administered at several broadly "ecological" conferences, we investigated: (1) the extent to which respondents engage in policy-related activities (including reporting scientific res...
Article
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A focus on ecosystem services (ES) is seen as a means for improving decisionmaking. In the research to date, the valuation of the material contributions of ecosystems to human well-being has been emphasized, with less attention to important cultural ES and nonmaterial values. This gap persists because there is no commonly accepted framework for eli...
Article
Understanding why people do what they do is central to advancing equitable and sustainable futures. Yet, theories about human action are fragmented across many social science disciplines, each with its own jargon and implicit assumptions. This fragmentation has hindered theory integration and accessibility of theories relevant to a given challenge....
Article
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Human‐shared landscapes cover much of Earth, yet their conservation value is contested. This controversy may persist because previous studies have examined species diversity, rather than the processes through which such diversity is maintained. For example, a site exhibiting high diversity may not actually bolster populations if the diversity is on...
Article
This paper expands the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) values framing about nature and its contributions to people by exploring the notion of ‘disvalues’, which pertains to aspects of nature that reduce well being (instrumental disvalues), relationships that are detrimental to a dignified and flourishing li...
Article
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Widespread, common species continue to decline, disrupting ecosystems and human connections with nature. New strategies to motivate people to protect widespread species are needed. Drawing on a relational values framework, we deploy a discrete choice experiment survey (n = 646) to test whether foregrounding the genetic distinctiveness of local popu...
Article
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To achieve a sustainable future, it is imperative to transform human actions collectively and underlying social structures. Decades of research in social sciences have offered complementary insights into how such transformations might occur. However, these insights largely remain disjunct and of limited scope, such that strategies for solving globa...
Article
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Abstract Given the massive and growing environmental impacts of conventional agriculture, humanity needs new methods for growing food that not only meet dietary needs but also provide for multiple ecosystem functions with potential benefits to people and biodiversity. Concepts from ecology and complex adaptive systems suggest that persistent struct...
Article
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Agricultural producers, academics and policy‐makers are increasingly interested in multifunctional tree crop systems as a solution for maintaining ecosystem services and producing food. The US Midwest is emerging as a hotbed of such systems in the temperate North in the form of farm‐scale woody perennial polyculture enterprises, but they are curren...
Preprint
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Determining where environmental management is best applied, either through regulating single sectors of human activities or across sectors, is complicated by interactions between human impacts and the environment. In this article, we show how an explicit representation of human-environment interactions can help, via “impact networks” including acti...
Article
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The global decline of megafauna is believed to have had significant and widespread ecological impacts. One such extinction of likely important consequence is the 18th century extinction of the Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas); however, little has been written about how the loss of this megaherbivore may have impacted coastal ecosystem dynamic...
Article
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Peak water describes the hydrological response of glacier-fed rivers to climate change, indicating that warming first drives increasing discharge until a glacier mass loss threshold is surpassed and discharge falls below values observed prior to contemporary climate warming. Although the physical principles of peak water are well understood and acc...
Article
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New migrants display unique use patterns and relationships with their host country's natural spaces. Understanding migrants' values about and interactions with nature requires identifying the meanings, benefits and capabilities that arise from their socio‐ecological interactions. This research seeks to understand how new migrants' engagement with t...
Technical Report
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The first UNEP synthesis report is titled: “Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies” and is based on evidence from global environmental assessments. The resulting synthesis communicates how climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution can be tackled jointly within the framewo...
Preprint
To achieve a sustainable future, it is imperative to transform human action and underlying social structures. Decades of research in social sciences have variously offered insights into understanding how such bold transformations might occur. However, these insights remain disjunct and of limited scope, providing only partial explanations on the pr...
Article
Full-text available
To address the ongoing global biodiversity crisis, conservation approaches must be underpinned by robust information. Canada is uniquely positioned to contribute to meeting global biodiversity targets, with some of the world's largest remaining intact ecosystems, and a commitment to co-application of Indigenous ways of knowing alongside scientific,...
Article
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In the sustainability and conservation sciences, “social learning” is defined as a group process which depends on trust and social capital and tends to boost conservation outcomes. We term this “collaborative social learning.” Meanwhile, the behavioral sciences define social learning as the individual use of socially acquired information and seek t...
Article
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Effectively conserving ecosystem services in order to maintain human wellbeing is a global need that requires an understanding of where ecosystem services are produced by ecosystems and where people benefit from these services. However, approaches to effectively identify key locations that have the capacity to supply ecosystem services and actually...
Article
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Staple crops, which have large amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and/or fats, provide the bulk of calories in people's diets. Perennial plants, which can be productive for many years without the need for replanting, can produce staple foods and environmental benefits, but their agronomic and nutritional properties haven't been considered syntheti...
Article
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Improving the management of multiple ecosystem services (e.g., food provision, water and air quality regulation, carbon storage, and erosion control) in agricultural landscapes is a critical challenge to improve food system sustainability. However, we currently lack spatially-resolved national-level assessments of the relationships among services i...
Article
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ContextPlanning for multifunctional landscapes is a way to restore ecological processes that benefit human well-being (ecosystem services—ES). By accounting for the effects of the spatial arrangement of restored areas, planners can enhance the positive outcomes of restoration activities. However, while there are many models for individual ES provis...
Article
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Adaptation needs in high mountain communities are increasingly well documented, yet most efforts to address these needs continue to befall mountain people who have contributed little to the problem of climate change. This situation represents a contravention of accepted norms of climate justice and calls attention to the need for better understandi...
Article
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1. Marine ecosystems play a key role in human wellbeing, particularly in the Global South through small-scale fisheries (SSF). While many have speculated that such activities are central to the provision of cultural benefits (such as cultural identity and heritage values), there are key information gaps regarding SSF cultural contributions to socie...
Article
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The concept of ecosystem services (ES) has risen to prominence based on its promise to vastly improve environmental decision‐making and to represent nature's many benefits to people. Yet the field has continued to be plagued by fundamental concerns, leading some to believe that the field of ES must mature or be replaced. In this paper, we quantitat...
Article
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The current biodiversity crisis involves major shifts in biological communities at local and regional scales. The consequences for Earth's life‐support systems are increasingly well‐studied, but knowledge of how community shifts affect cultural services associated with wildlife lags behind. We integrated bird census data (3 years across 150 point‐c...
Article
Low carbon energy infrastructure has been controversial for economic, social and environmental reasons: relatively high capital costs compared to fossil fuels; dissatisfaction with who owns the infrastructure; visual impacts; and habitat harm. Our research takes an initial step to assess the relative salience of these challenges with a choice exper...
Article
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Humanity is on a deeply unsustainable trajectory. We are exceeding planetary boundaries and unlikely to meet many international sustainable development goals and global environmental targets. Until recently, there was no broadly accepted framework of interventions that could ignite the transformations needed to achieve these desired targets and goa...
Article
The benefits of ecosystem restoration Human activities have fundamentally altered many ecosystems. Recent successful restoration efforts have led to healthier ecosystems, but this has led to a disruption in economies dependent on the altered state of the system. One of the best-known trophic cascades is the sea otter–kelp forest system, wherein rec...
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystem services are impacted through restricting service supply, through limiting people from accessing services, and by affecting the quality of services. We map cumulative impacts to 8 different ecosystem services in coastal British Columbia using InVEST models, spatial data, and expert elicitation to quantify risk to each service from anthrop...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation policy relies on input from science, yet scientists are often frustrated by the ‘gap’ between their recommendations and policy decisions. In this paper we examine one such ‘gap’: how a long-standing conflict of values functioned to ‘infect’ the synthesis and application of riparian science for salmon habitat restoration projects. We do...
Article
• Facing public concern over costs related to top‐predator reintroductions and conservation, ecosystem services such as ecotourism are often used to evoke benefits that outweigh or offset those costs. Quantifying these benefits using rigorous scientific methods can provide confidence to policymakers and other stakeholders that predators can in fact...
Article
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Abstract Governments around the world rely on environmental impact assessment (EIA) to understand the environmental risks of proposed developments. To examine the basis for these appraisals, we examine the output of EIA processes in jurisdictions within seven countries, focusing on scope (spatial and temporal), mitigation actions and whether impact...
Article
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Financial incentives are increasingly popular in development and conservation. A common application involves paying for conservation activities, such as for farmers to set aside land for forests, known as payments for ecosystem services (PES). Debates about incentives such as PES center around the promise and perils of applying market logics to con...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ideas of relational values and social values are gaining prominence in sustainability science. Here, we ask: how well do these value conceptions resonate with one Indigenous worldview? The relational values concept broadened conceptions of values beyond instrumental and intrinsic values to encompass preferences and principles about human relati...
Article
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The time is now For decades, scientists have been raising calls for societal changes that will reduce our impacts on nature. Though much conservation has occurred, our natural environment continues to decline under the weight of our consumption. Humanity depends directly on the output of nature; thus, this decline will affect us, just as it does th...
Article
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Scholars and policy-makers are advocating for increasing the resilience of water systems, both social and biophysical, to climate change impacts, and global environmental change more broadly. But what is "water resilience," and what does it imply for water resources management and water governance? Generally, water resilience may include ecological...
Article
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Costa Rica is a global ecotourism destination, yet tourism growth has contributed to conflicts over water use. Given the potential for tourism revenue to address important environmental challenges, this study examined factors that influence financial support for conservation, evaluating the role of relational values both as an independent measure a...
Article
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Abstract The functional trait diversity of species assemblages can predict the provision of ecosystem services such as pollination and carbon sequestration, but it is unclear whether the same trait‐based framework can be applied to identify the factors that underpin cultural ecosystem services and disservices. To explore the relationship between tr...
Article
Despite the great cultural and economic benefits associated with birdwatching and other bird-related cultural ecosystem services (CES), little is known about the bird-related CES and disservices perceived by people, and how they differ across stakeholders and species. The goal of this study was to explore CES and disservices across three stakeholde...
Article
Full-text available
The ideas of relational values and social values are gaining prominence in sustainability science. Here, we ask: how well do these value conceptions resonate with one Indigenous worldview? The relational values concept broadens conceptions of values beyond instrumental and intrinsic values to encompass preferences and principles about human relatio...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Changes in climate and land use are modifying biodiversity worldwide. Yet it remains unclear how both drivers interact to structure communities and determine patterns in taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity at local scales. We focused on bird diversity and asked: how do precipitation and forest cover gradients interactively structur...
Article
Full-text available
Our paper, “The Insignificance of Thresholds in Environmental Impact Assessment: An Illustrative Case Study in Canada” received a critique that challenged us on a number of grounds. Namely, that we defame EIA practitioners, that we advocate EIAs to become a scientific enterprise, that we do not recognize the complexity inherent in EIA, and that EIA...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ecosystem services are impacted through restricting service supply, through limiting people from accessing services, and by affecting the quality of services. We map cumulative impacts to 8 different ecosystem services in coastal British Columbia using InVEST models, spatial data, and expert elicitation to quantify risk to each service from anthrop...
Article
Full-text available
Maintaining the continued flow of benefits from science, as well as societal support for science, requires sustained engagement between the research community and the general public. On the basis of data from an international survey of 1092 participants (634 established researchers and 458 students) in 55 countries and 315 research institutions, we...
Article
The outcome of the ongoing biodiversity crisis depends on the capacity of the Earth’s wildlife to persist in working landscapes. Yet, the species that occupy working landscapes are often distinct from those in protected areas, with a large group of “sensitive species” thought to rarely venture into human‐dominated landscapes. As governments have co...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report represents a critical assessment, the first in almost 15 years (since the release of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005) and the first ever carried out by an intergovernmental body, of the status and trends of the natural world, the social implications of these trends, their direct and indirect causes, and, importantly, the act...
Article
Full-text available
British Columbia has the greatest biological diversity of any province or territory in Canada. Yet increasing numbers of species in British Columbia are threatened with extinction. The current patchwork of provincial laws and regulations has not effectively prevented species declines. Recently, the Provincial Government has committed to enacting an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the great cultural and economic benefits associated with birdwatching and other bird-related cultural ecosystem services (CES), little is known about the bird-related CES perceived by people, and how they differ across stakeholder groups and species. The goal of this study was to explore CES across three stakeholder groups in northwestern C...
Article
Agri-environmental incentive programs seek to compensate farmers for changes to enhance ecosystem services and/or biodiversity, yet enrolling participants is a common challenge. We examine this challenge using a relational values lens, a framework developed here in reference to three key relationships of farmers to: their land, community and landsc...
Article
Full-text available
The vital importance of nature to people, and of people to the future of that nature, is self‐evident. The understanding of those linkages is, nonetheless, being critically transformed and enriched by research that transcends the barriers between ecology and other traditional disciplines. Such studies are not new, but the dramatic growth in their n...
Preprint
Full-text available
Governments around the world rely on environmental impact assessment (EIA) to provide rigorous analyses and an accurate appraisal of the risks and benefits of development. But how rigorous are the analyses conducted in EIAs, and how do they compare across nations? We evaluate the output from EIAs for jurisdictions in seven countries, focusing on sc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Governments around the world rely on environmental impact assessment (EIA) to provide rigorous analyses and an accurate appraisal of the risks and benefits of development. But how rigorous are the analyses conducted in EIAs, and how do they compare across nations? We evaluate the output from EIAs for jurisdictions in seven countries, focusing on sc...
Article
Full-text available
Relational values—as preferences, principles and virtues about human-nature relationships—have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. The term has been used to include concepts and knowledge from a wide range of social sciences and humanities, e.g., importantly making space for qualitative approaches often neglected within environment...
Article
Ecosystem services frameworks effectively assume that nature's contributions to human well-being derive from people receiving benefits from nature. At the same time, efforts (money, time, or energy) for conservation, restoration or stewardship are often considered costs to be minimized. But what if caring for nature is itself an essential component...
Technical Report
Full-text available
British Columbia has the greatest biological diversity of any province or territory in Canada. Yet more and more species in British Columbia are threatened with extinction and require active measures for protection and recovery. The current patchwork of provincial laws and regulations managing wildlife and their habitats has not effectively prevent...