Coastal community conservation: a win-win solution against climate change
Coastal and near shore marine habitats and adjacent communities are on the front line in the battle against climate change and Sea Level Rise (SLR). One of the biggest challenges facing the ocean and our societies is reversing the loss and degradation of our coastal and marine ecosystem services (biodiversity, coastal protection, climate change mitigation, food security, health and wellbeing etc). Simultaneously we are also experiencing seemingly unrelated societal emergency in the form of decreased wellbeing across communities. Solutions to both require systematic top-down efforts at governmental level linked to bottom-up behavioural change. These solutions are notoriously challenging and slow to reach success.
Dr. Hanna Nuuttila, a researcher from the Swansea University, Wales, aims to investigate how and to what extent community involvement and direct participation could contribute to effective conservation and restoration projects at meaningful scales, with wide scale support and community level benefits. Specifically, her focus is facilitating future conservation projects in industrial countries, where the connection to coastal habitats is all but lost. The project’s assumption is that a simple and cost-effective solution of engaging the public, or local inhabitants, in ecosystem restoration and conservation projects has the potential to create positive feedback due to its capacity to increase social capital whilst providing crucial resources for restoration projects. This in turn will enhance the ecological benefits and reinforce behavioural change required for climate change mitigation and adaptation at the individual and community level, with positive impacts on participants’ mental and physical wellbeing.
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