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Socio-ecological Change in Rural Ethiopia

Understanding Local Dynamics in Environmental Planning and Natural Resource Management

Edited By Till Stellmacher

Socio-ecological change is characterized by interactions among a wide range of actors with different interests, needs and capabilities. Environmental planning has to contribute to the coalescence of local realities, multi-stakeholder land-use planning and policy making. Contributing to this discourse, this book presents empirical local case studies from Ethiopia that illustrate socio-ecological change in the form of rural livelihood transformation. Various approaches to environmental planning and natural resource management are depicted that can be used as lessons learned in similar contexts in Ethiopia and beyond.
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In the last years, the scientific lens of understanding management of natural resources shifted from stable to changing systems. Theoretical models and concepts of dynamic and changing systems succeeded paradigms of preservation and sustainability while the analytical focus largely shifted from steady to alternating behaviors and patterns.

Complexity is an inherent characteristic of socio-ecological change. Most systems are characterized by complex interactions on different spatial and temporal levels. Individual or collective actors with different interests, needs, capabilities, and capacities decide and behave based on institutions and norms in interaction with biological and bio-physical conditions and processes. These situations are prone to conflict and eventually incite to ineffective and inefficient (over-)use of natural resources. Upon this backdrop, environmental planning needs to translate and incorporate socio-ecological change and complexity into tong-term and conflict-mitigating multi-stakeholder land use planning and policy making.

The chapters in this special book issue make some contributions to this discussion. They show local empirical case studies in Ethiopia in which socio-ecological change materialized in the form of land use change and transformation of livelihoods in rural development contexts. This goes along with numerous negative effects in all depicted cases, such as land degradation, ecosystem depletion, and loss of biodiversity, emphasizing the need for integrated and adapted environmental planning and natural resource management. The contributions to this special book issue do not, however, only show character and dimension of complex challenges of socio-ecological change but also demonstrate stories that can be labelled as...

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