Delta social dynamics

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Extensive restoration of delta landscapes is not possible without community support. We have limited evidence to understand how project design, project communication, or factors within the community and outside project work affect community support for restoration or protection actions.

One of the commonly used approaches to address stakeholder vulnerability is to address the inherent or explicitly designed socioeconomic benefits of restoration actions beyond their conservation goals. One approach is to describe ecosystem services economically in terms of Valued Ecosystem Components (Leschine and Petersen 2007). Demonstrating these benefits (ecosystem function that leads to valued goods and services) are at the early stage and few protocols exist to determine what quantitative or qualitative approach is most appropriate to capture these multiple benefits. And, even if these benefits are accurately captured, will this enable greater support and ownership of river deltas and create greater support for restoration and recovery actions and will that increased support yield greater conservation results. See

Social constraints (and opportunities) may be based on an accurate evaluation of socioeconomic benefits delivered by river delta restoration projects that stakeholder communities are most interested in. The implicit assumption is that revealing nature’s benefits that are a direct result of river delta restoration will promote greater support for this kind of restoration by the stakeholders who receive these benefits. The emphasis has been on quantifying these socioeconomic benefits but some qualitative evaluations have been done and may be more appropriate in some situations. The larger question is what are the aspects of river delta benefits that stakeholders value, why do they value them and how can you survey and document how getting these benefits will change public opinion. Leschine and Petersen (2007) address the value portion of this by developing lists of Valued Ecosystem Components (VEC) that are community specific. VEC’s are generated by ecosystem valuation techniques. Much of this can be subjective but addressing total economic value of restoration projects are assumed to enable greater support for these projects. Testing that assumption is much more subjective and problematic. In addition to total economic value, some of these efforts have political and cultural value that may be of equal to greater value to community stakeholders. Standardizing techniques that evaluate economic, cultural and political value of ecosystem services and evaluating stakeholder responses to greater knowledge of these values is essential to overcoming social constraints related to river delta restoration.