oa Interim : Interdisciplinary Journal - Climate change and ecological systems : a conceptual framework for the understanding of socio-hydrological dynamics
A functioning ecological system results in ecosystem goods and services which are of direct value to human beings. Ecosystem services are the conditions and processes which sustain and fulfill human life, and maintain biodiversity and the production of ecosystem goods. However, human actions affect ecological systems and the services they provide through various activities, such as land use, water use, pollution and climate change.
Climate change is perhaps one of the most important sustainable development challenges that threaten to undo many of the development efforts being made to reach the targets set for the Millennium Development Goals. Understanding the provision of ecosystem services and how they change under different scenarios of climate and biophysical conditions could assist in bringing the issue of ecosystem services into decision making process. Similarly, the impacts of land use change on ecosystems and biodiversity have received considerable attention from ecologists and hydrologists alike. Land use change in a catchment can impact on water supply by altering hydrological processes, such as infiltration, groundwater recharge, base flow and direct runoff. In the past a variety of models were used for predicting land-use changes. Recently the focus has shifted away from using mathematically oriented models to agent-based modelling (ABM) approach to simulate land use scenarios. The agent-based perspective, with regard to land-use cover change, is centred on the general nature and rules of land-use decision making by individuals. A conceptual framework is being developed to investigate the possibility of incorporating the human dimension of land use decision and climate change model into a hydrological model in order to assess the impact of future land use scenario and climate change on the ecological system in general and water resources in particular.
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