Social-ecological assessment framework for the restoration of the Iraqi Mesopotamian Marshlands
SubjectIrreversible change; Mesopotamian Marshlands; Resilience; Salinity; Social- ecological assessment; Thresholds
Efforts to restore the Mesopotamian Marshlands, the largest wetlands ecosystem in the Middle East, have been underway since 2003. However, they have lacked an integrated approach that recognizes the marshes as a complex social-ecological system. This study builds a social-ecological assessment framework to restore the marshes using a resilience thinking approach. This work describes the system and identifies specified resilience as a part of an integrated management framework. Key controlling variables, such as salinity, across scales and domains, are identified. Results suggest that the kind of system variability that has been introduced with respect to salinity levels (measured between 2010 and 2014) provides early warning that a critical threshold may be surpassed in the Mesopotamian Marshes. Managers have to be aware that irreversible change might occur if the threshold is exceeded. An integrated social-ecological assessment approach is proffered as a means to more sustainable system management.
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