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A Conceptual Model of Impacts of Environmental Change on Human Well-Being

By Melanie Cox, Ron Johnstone and J. Robinson

Abstract

Human well-being is dependent on goods and services provided by well-functioning ecosystems. Changes in ecosystem status and integrity can therefore impact directly and indirectly on human well-being. However, neither current measures of ecosystem health nor methods to value ecosystem services incorporate methods to assess impacts of changes in ecosystem health on human well-being. Assessment of these impacts is potentially useful in improving the sustainability of coastal management decision making. This paper presents a conceptual model developed to identify the potential links between ecosystem condition and human well-being. Based on existing literature, it is hypothesised that changes in coastal ecosystem condition may affect aspects of social and community relations through affecting people\u27s sense of place, degree of involvement in the community and the extent to which they undertake recreation in the coastal environment. Changes in these aspects of social relations can have flow-on impacts on social capital, social networks, levels of trust and physical and mental health. Changes in ecosystem condition may also have more direct impacts on human health, through bacterial contamination of recreational waters, the presence of toxicants in seafood, or through the presence of toxic algal blooms in recreational waters. Regional economic production is also affected by changes in coastal ecosystems, through changes in the production of fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries. The conceptual model provides a basis for the development of a dynamic systems model to assess the impacts of changes in ecosystem health on human well-being. This information is necessary to ensure that decisions regarding the use of natural ecosystems are well-informed and therefore appropriate

Topics: 270702 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology), 280111 Conceptual Modelling, 379999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:espace.library.uq.edu.au:UQ:10281

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