The purpose of this paper is to design a conceptual model that combines technology and
environmental services through stewardship for ecosystem sustainability. The paper is aimed at
creating an ecosystem platform (e-EcosysPlatform) that integrates the various components
(knowledge, action strategies, and sustainable approaches) of stewardship with the ultimate goal of
improving ecosystem health. The combination of technology with stewardship approaches shows a
promising approach to solving the basic ecosystem challenges faced in most part of the world. The
design idea can be extended for the development of many applications which can help ensure a
healthy ecosystem. The proposed design model demonstrates a new idea towards providing
stewardship of the ecosystem through information technology.
The ecosystem serves as a community for all living things (plants, animals, and organisms) that
interacts with the physical environment and the non-living things (i.e., the weather, earth, the sun,
soil, climate, atmosphere). In recent decades’ mankind's reliance on the ecosystem has raised
several management and intervention strategies such as laws, regulations, and enforcement
schemes, partnerships, and collaborations; the sharing of information and knowledge; and public
and private action [1, 2]. Apart from these management and intervention strategies, researchers
have focused on new ways to improve the ecosystem by identifying appropriate environmental
variables for policy and management for understanding the benefits provided by the environment.
These benefits obtain from ecosystems are classified into provisioning services (e.g., food, water),
regulatory services (e.g., regulation of floods and land degradation), support services (e.g., soil
formation and nutrient cycling), and cultural services (e.g., recreational and religious benefits [2,
3]. Recently, studies into ecosystem services have primarily focused on the development,
evaluation strategies , SWOT analysis , provision of requirements for selecting the
appropriate ecosystem services , analysis and assessment of ecosystems policy  towards the
achievement of an improved ecosystem health . In the work done by , the authors discussed
four (4) key factors to improve ecosystems services as 1) increasing awareness of the extent to
which human societies interact with and are dependent upon the environment; 2) better integrating
the natural and social sciences and engaging and acknowledging stakeholder knowledge; 3) greater
understanding of the impacts of environmental change and environmental policy on human
wellbeing; and, 4) contributing towards achievement of sustainable relationships between human
society and ecosystems. In addition to the strategies designed to improve ecosystem services, there
are other integrated approaches that have been proposed for assessing ecosystem health. For
example, in , an integrated approach for assessing the urban ecosystem health of megacities in
China was discussed. In this work, they designed an assessment model to improve eco-environment
in 13 megalopolises and metropolises. Similarly,  provided an assessment model for the
Hangzhou Bay in China by integrating remote sensing and inventory data to assess ecosystem
health and  provide an assessment model (VORS model) which focused on vigor, organization,
resilience, and service for assessing the ecosystem health in the Liao River Basin upstream region.
Other ecosystem health assessments models were proposed in [12 -15]. Looking at the current
trend of global ecosystem change, there is the need to also delve attention into the interaction of
man with the ecosystems with the intention of enhancing the sense of responsibility towards
maintaining healthy ecosystems. The concept of stewardship has gained attention in recent years as
a tool to shift the paradigm into developing humans to be part of the ecosystem and that everyone
has a responsibility for its care [16, 17].
According to , stewardship is a framework that guides society to actively shape pathways of
ecological and social change to enhance both ecosystem resilience and long-term human
wellbeing. The use of Information Technology/Systems for environmental monitoring have been
well studied in recent years by researchers to build the knowledge base for environmental action
and sustainability [19, 20]. Technology provides different solutions to solve different problems in
the environment such as the use of sensors for water quality monitoring [21, 22], and animal
tracking . Also, social media tools have been adopted to improve environmental awareness to
provide individuals with the necessary knowledge, and skills to prevent issues facing the
environment . Despite these technological advancements, there still remain a gap for man to
use technology to match the current rate of global ecosystem change. Emerging from the
convergence of technology and stewardship is the conception of technology stewardship of the
ecosystem. This is explained as the use of technological tools to streamline ecological and social
changes to enhance the ecosystem structure and function. Technology stewarding, therefore,
constitutes the interaction among the functions performed by the Technology Steward,
Environmental Steward, and the Community Steward. The roles and functions provided by these
people are provided in Section 3
These coastal ecosystems are at risk to succumbing to adverse effects of increasing demands of a
growing population. The area is undergoing rapid changes in land use and land cover with
commercial and residential developments replacing what were once forested areas and other natural
habitats. It has been reported in several media that people in the villages in the coastal area use the
beach as a place of convenience also, garbage, mostly plastic is piling up at the beach, some of it
disposed there and others washed up from the sea by the tide. Sea level rise, water pollution, and
habitat decline threaten the resources and attributes of the coast. Effective coastal zone
management requires an educated community with an understanding of the implication of their
actions. Effective education programs are critical to fostering action and change for improving
coastal management. A number of local government and non-government organizations have
developed coastal management education programs targeting a range of stakeholders within the
Ada coastal area. However, most of these programs do not have the requisite framework for
sustainability and lack the indigenous knowledge of the local environment. Whilst these programs
may be successful in reaching their target groups, the question is: how effective are these programs
in strengthening stewardship of community members towards improving coastal ecosystems health
and sustainable management of the coast? This research aims to address this question through a
situational analysis of coastal ecosystems and current coastal management education within the
Ada coastal area on the eastern coast of Ghana. It hopes to improve the effectiveness of coastal
management education by creating an educational curriculum with a focus on sustainability and
knowledge of the indigenous environment.
The ecosystem is defined as a dynamic unit composed of the biotic and abiotic factors interacting
together. In the era of sustainability which has been the focus of almost every sector of society in
the world, humans are seen to be part of the ecological unit. The influences of mankind and
interactions with other biotic and abiotic factors in a sustainable manner have been regarded as the
complex integrated network which makes the earth livable. In the recent years, perhaps in the
advent of the industrial age, the trend of mankind in the exploitation of natural resource has been
considered unprecedented leading to diverse forms of pollution which are trending to a world
regarded as unsustainable. In other words, if the current trend continues it has been predicted by
environmental models that the threshold in which biotic and abiotic systems work will break down
and the resilience of the earth could not be restored any longer. Technology has seen great
improvements over the years and has proven to be an effective tool in various sectors as far as
management is a concern. It is, therefore, imperative that we find ways to integrate the various
technologies which are evolving and updating to enhance societal stewardship. The rate at which
humans are exploiting the resources in ecosystems calls for a sense of responsibility on the part of
the individual. Current methods of regulations, policies, and laws aimed at resource management,
though play a vital role in governance, is gradually weakening. This is partly attributed to the rising
human race and the need to provide and meet everyone’s satisfaction. In this system of the
competitive environment, there has been the urgent need to raise the awareness of stewardship
which hopes to drive the individual’s intention to act in a positive manner towards the ecosystems.
As the governing structures continue to play their role, stewardship will set the bottom-up approach
to re-shape the attitude and actions of the individual to build healthy and resilient ecosystems for
mankind. The coastal zone in eastern Ghana is described as an economic, ecological and residential
area. The coastline provides a source of living to many people that are employed in fishing and fish
processing. The long sandy beaches fringed with coconut trees are one of the tourist attractions of
the coast. The Volta River and its estuary are found in the area. The islands in the river and in the
estuary, are homes to many wildlife including marine turtles, birds, crocodiles, and monkeys.
Mangrove vegetation is another attraction of the area with much ecological benefits. These
important natural features are however endangered by human activities.
Technology is advancing since the era of industrialization at a very rapid rate. This has come with
diverse frameworks and tools for solving different challenges at the click of a button. In the
concept to enhance the sense of responsibility of mankind towards the environment, technology
should also be designed to enhance stewardship, hence, the need for a technological steward.
Currently, there is a pool of different technological tools that seek to address environmental
challenges in a sectoral approach. In reality, these have proven to be very helpful in tackling a lot
of challenges within the domain of disaster monitoring and ecosystem protection. However, the
common integrated platform where different technological tools and frameworks are made to work
towards enhancing stewardship would be more effective. In the end, this creates a greater synergy
for ecosystem protection since the effect of technology the enhance the sense of responsibility of
humans are together serving as caretakers of the ecosystems. The platform will be kept abreast
through the update of finding ways the use new emerging technologies to remedy challenges we
have in the environment as well as enhancing the human to be more concern about keeping healthy
and resilient ecosystems. The interaction among the stewards are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 Interaction among ecosystem stewards
Environmentalists (i.e., the environmental stewards) seek to provide the needed knowledge and
actions to society in order to keep and maintain healthy ecosystems in the environment. Different
disciplines are working in an integrated approach with environmentalist with the aim of bringing
solutions to current challenges we face in current times or as projected. It is imperative that the
attention is drawn to stewardship where individuals are also empowered to know about the
functioning and structure of the ecosystems particularly those in their immediate environment or in
connection to their livelihoods. The stewardship concept also advocates to effectively empower
individuals to provide remedies to small challenges that could escalate into major threats in the
environments. Measures should not be put into place to curb humans from exploiting the ecosystem
however, the human attitude of greed to the ecosystem should be re-shaped in the idea of
sustainability. In this effect, man exploits the ecosystem in the sphere of his environmental
resilience, economic gains, and social integrity.
The term community stewardship for ecosystem sustainability has been coined to use stewardship
as a tool for making ecosystems more sustainable on the part of people in direct connection with
the ecosystem resources. Community stewardship serves to empower the humans who are in direct
contact with the ecosystems. This is usually through their livelihoods most especially. People in
such locus should be made aware of the structure and functioning of the ecosystems and also
empowered to become good stewards. Technology in this sense could be made to enhance the
Figure 2 provides the architecture of the ecosystem, taking into account the role of the three
stewards (technology, environment, and community) and their interaction with the activities within
the ecosystem. The three partnership groups work together to enhance information flow for
managing ecosystems (Figure 1). The Ecosysplatform integrates the internet, servers, mobile
devices, and software applications to create innovative methods and approaches in real-time for a
smarter management process. For example, the community steward may detect an indiscriminate
habitat destruction such as mangrove vegetation by community members or poaching of
endangered species like turtles in the ecosystem, could send an information to the platform where it
could be assessed by the all the partners for immediate action to be taken. The environmental
steward works in this platform to provide and recommend the appropriate strategy to deal with the
challenge in the ecosystem. Where possible, the environmental stewards on the platform discuss
the recommended strategies and decide on the best approach. The responsibility of the technology
steward is to check the available strategies as recommended by the environmental stewards and the
community stewards. Also, he combines current and innovative technological tools and methods to
foster the process of dealing with the challenge in the ecosystem. The goal for integrating
stewardship of the ecosystem with technology is to ensure effective and efficient monitoring of the
environment to sustain the various service derived from nature.
Figure 2 Ecosystem Stewardship
The future direction of this concept is to establish coastal educational centers as part of integrated
coastal zone management strategies to enhance stewardship of community members and
stakeholders along every coast particularly in the developing countries. These canters will run at
the strategic level of governance where it becomes imperative for community members and
stakeholders to get involve in the process of helping to conserve the ecosystems. Awarding
incentives will play a vital role in recognizing this objective. It is, therefore, envisioned that some
form of benefits would be used with time which could be in the form of monetary gains, waivers,
certificate awards and recognition. For example, it could be made mandatory for all potential
politicians to have participated in such ecosystem stewardship programs before being offered
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