From collapse to challenge of socio-ecological systems: Learning from stakeholders’ perception of a coastal wetland, El Hondo Natural Park (Spain)

Authors: Sandra Ricart*, University of Alicante, Interuniversity Institute of Geography, Antonio Manuel Rico Amoros, University of Alicante, Interuniversity Institute of Geography
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Behavioral Geography, Global Change
Keywords: socio-ecological systems, coastal wetlands, rural-natural interface, stakeholders’ behaviour, social learning, El Hondo Natural Park, Spain
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: Download



As coupled human-natural systems, coastal wetlands constitute a resource of economic, cultural, recreational, and environmental value. However, due to rapid urbanization and intensification of agricultural activities, these hybrid systems are continuously being degraded, generating several ecological and social problems. This contribution aims to deepen how agriculture-nature interactions and stakeholder behavior affect the management of coastal wetlands and conditioning decision-making and climate change adaptation processes. El Hondo Natural Park (Alicante, Spain) is the selected case study in which 15 key stakeholders from the public administration, the rural community, and the civil society are selected. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and has been analyzed following the principles of the Grounded Theory and by means of computer-assisted qualitative and mixed methods data (MAXQDA®). Results from contrasting attitudes revealed specific issues that were not duly identified in the broader literature about the agriculture-environment nexus: how traditional agricultural systems have collapsed; why the abandonment of the agricultural activity is affecting rural development; how pollution is affecting water resources and ecosystems and if alternative water resources should be used to ensuring water balance; how the increasing urban development in coastal areas are affecting the rural hinterland; how climate change is going to affect coastal wetlands; and how to deepen on stakeholders’ behavior from social learning. This last issue, social-learning, should be promoted to deepen understanding of nature and social factors that influence individual and group attitudinal and behavioral outcomes when addressing inherent complexity associated with socio-ecological systems.

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