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4.2.1 PHASE 1: Illustrating the system being studied including natural processes and human activities

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4 2 1  phase1

Phase 1 consists of building a “conceptual” diagram of the links between the environment and the human activities practiced in the case study site.

This is commonly known as a socio-ecological system. This diagram gives the managers and stakeholders an overall vision of the system; it is useful to understand the qualitative, and if possible the quantitative links, between all the elements of the system considering natural processes and human activities.

The diagram represents the links between habitats, species, ecosystem services, human activities, governance context and indicates the potential pressures or impacts, the management issues, the knowledge gaps and uncertainties, etc. The links can be represented in terms of direction, nature and intensity.


Example of information categories that can be in the diagram:
4 2 1 conceptual diagram

or in greater detail …
4 2 1 conceptual diagram detail


Advantages: builds a common culture shared by stakeholders; builds relationships between stakeholders and managers; better comprehension of the ecosystem and local issues.

Difficulties: availability and involvement of stakeholders; availability and quality of data; uncertainties.

Stakeholder participation in constructing the diagram can help to build and share a common understanding of the socio-ecological system. The challenge is to find a suitable representation, which contains as much information as possible while remaining understandable and without discriminating against some activities. There are several software packages which can be used (e.g. PowerPoint, C-Map, Mind Map and ExtendSIM).


 Tools that can be used to reach the objectives of this phase:

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