Jodi Brandt has published three new articles.
The first two articles, one led by HES post-doctoral researcher Cristina Quintas-Soriana, investigated water scarcity and governance in a project known as WaterSES (water social-ecological systems) that includes international research sites in Spain, China, South Africa and the United States (Oklahoma, Texas and Idaho). Both articles were part of the MILES program, a National Science Foundation award managed by Idaho EPSCoR.
Both articles use a synthesis of multiple case studies to understand commonalities and differences regarding ecosystem services, or the benefits that humans receive from ecosystems. A take-home message of the research is that people place a surprisingly high value on cultural ecosystem services, including local identity, cultural heritage, and recreation. Cultural ecosystem services are notoriously difficult to quantify because their value is less tangible than provisioning (e.g. food production) or regulating (e.g. water quality) services, and less quantifiable by traditional societal measures such as monetary worth. Future research in Brandt’s research group will address the issue of how communities can better measure cultural ecosystem services and communicate those values to decision-makers.
Read the articles online: “Applying Place-Based Social-Ecological Research to Address Water Scarcity: Insights for Future Research,” published in the journal Sustainability in which the team synthesizes insights gained from place-based research sites to inform the global sustainability agenda, and “Social-ecological systems influence ecosystem service perception: a Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) analysis,” published in the journal Ecology and Society in which the team analyzes data from 1,500 face-to-face surveys conducted in four international sites, including the Treasure Valley.
The third article, “A global systematic review of empirical evidence of ecotourism impacts on forests in biodiversity hotspots,” published in the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, focuses on the environmental impacts of ecotourism.
Brandt and co-author Ralf Buckley from Griffith University in Australia reviewed the global literature for empirical studies evaluating whether ecotourism leads to forest protection in biodiversity hotspots. Overall, they found that, even with the growing popularity of ecotourism as a strategy to protect the environment and stimulate the economy in biodiversity hotspots, there is little rigorous study of whether ecotourism does in fact lead to its purported environmental benefits.
They found only 17 studies that fit their criteria for a rigorous, quantitative analysis. The majority of those studies conclude that ecotourism leads to deforestation. They they also found several cases in which ecotourism, accompanied by an explicit conservation mechanism (e.g. a protected area), did lead to forest protection.