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Terrestrial ecosystems provide a wide range of values—from biodiversity and carbon storage to clean water and recreational opportunities in interaction with social systems. Managing ecosystems to sustain these values requires understanding what values exist in a given ecosystem, their interactions with society and how they change over time and space. However, natural ecosystems and the social context within which they are embedded are inherently variable across scales—capturing the many ecosystem values presents a significant challenge. This unit will explore the principles of, and approaches to, ecosystem assessment and monitoring across both the biophysical and social domains. We will focus on developing practical skills in the design of social and biophysical assessments, data collection and the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data associated with natural resources and their management. Example assessment approaches include ecological monitoring, forest inventory, stakeholder analysis, participatory mapping and value-based conversations, among many others. We will draw on examples from a range of ecosystems around the world.
This subject will involve practicals and a three-day, pre-semester field trip.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Understand the key principles of ecosystem monitoring and assessment;
- Critically analyse existing ecosystem monitoring and assessment programs;
- Develop a robust design for quantitative and qualitative assessment of ecosystem values and related social values and practices for a case-study scenario;
- Understand different approaches and techniques/tools for conducting ecosystem assessments;
- Apply a range of standard equipment and techniques for conducting quantitative and qualitative ecosystem assessments;
- Select, undertake, and interpret output from basic statistical and qualitative analyses of biophysical and social data;
- Produce a basic report assessing a range of values for a specific ecosystem and its stakeholders and describing the uncertainties associated with their measurement.
- Integrate social and ecological data from multiple sources to identify system interactions and management issues; and
- Project development and management
- Critical thinking (problem definition, analysis and synthesis)
- Data analysis
- Report writing
Last updated: 3 November 2022