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1 December 2013 Engaging Multiple Disciplines in Ecosystem Services Research and Assessment: A Reply to Orenstein
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We thank Orenstein for discussing our recent article in BioScience (Raymond et al. 2013). His central argument is that social scientists need to be better engaged in ES assessment if the concept is to be mainstreamed into policy and practice. We agree. Along those lines, we called for a deliberative approach to ecosystem management that actively engages multiple stakeholder groups in meaningful dialogues in order to understand the ways that people relate to nature before adopting a specific metaphor a priori to portray human-environment interactions. Such a deliberative approach requires an interdisciplinary approach to ES assessment. Our article, which was the result of a workshop that invited a broad suite of social scientists (many new to the concept of ecosystem services) to think seriously about what their disciplines and methods could offer to the study of cultural values and social change in ecosystem services. Furthermore, many of the authors of this article are trained in the social sciences. We therefore extend Orenstein s argument in that social and natural scientists of all stripes have an important role in navigating the policy process, in providing relevant social and ecological data for policymakers, for the communication of results, and for stakeholder integration.

We also agree that cultural services deserve more attention, as some of us have argued extensively elsewhere (e.g., Chan et al. 2012a, Daniel et al. 2012, Klain and Chan 2012). Some of us have helped pioneer approaches “to study how humans perceive and respond to ES” (Raymond et al. 2009, Klain and Chan 2012). Others have also built novel participatory approaches for mapping cultural and social values that complement our work (e.g., Sherrouse et al. 2011, Brown et al. 2012). We heartily agree, again, that ecosystem-service valuation merits some critique, as we have also argued previously (e.g., Chan 2011, Chan et al. 2012b). Orenstein charges that these points weren't discussed in the article. That is true. Not all points belong in all papers.

Orenstein calls for a historical account of the development of ES research. Toward this end, we appreciated existing contributions (Mooney and Ehrlich 1997, Gómez-Baggethun et al. 2010).

Finally, Orenstein encourages ES assessments to be anthropocentric, citing the need to work backward from society and its specific needs to the ecosystem processes that support these needs. Our focus was not only on ES assessments but on ecological management and intervention in general. In this context, we argued and we still maintain that, although utilitarian anthropocentric approaches are valuable in some contexts, there can be great gains from also considering approaches that don't emphasize what ecosystems do for people but, rather, a diversity of human-environment relationships. For example, the closed-loop production metaphor showed the importance of valuing not only the services that ecosystems provide to humans but also the ways in which humans guide environmental interactions. The web of life metaphor was then used to highlight the importance of valuing ecological patterns and processes. The challenge for researchers and policymakers is to develop deliberative approaches that, first, allow multiple metaphors (e.g., economic production, closed-loop production, web of life, stewardship, and ecocultural community) to be heard and that, second, allow chosen metaphors to be included in valuation approaches that account for both human and nonhuman needs.

In conclusion, we support Orenstein's call for the inclusion of a broader array of disciplines in ES research and assessment. We argue that this should be done in a way that enables deliberation on a diversity of metaphors representing human-environment relationships, toward greater harmony in such relationships.

References cited


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Christopher M. Raymond, Gerald G. Singh, Karina Benessaiah, Nancy J. Turner, Harry Nelson, and Kai M. A. Chan "Engaging Multiple Disciplines in Ecosystem Services Research and Assessment: A Reply to Orenstein," BioScience 63(12), 913-914, (1 December 2013).
Published: 1 December 2013

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