EcoGaps addresses apparent gaps between ecosystem science knowledge and its use in regional and local policy-decisions in land-use planning and water management.
About the project
Ecosystems are increasingly threatened by land use, biodiversity losses and climate change, while the management remains divided among multiple actors, sectoral silo organization and demarcated decision making processes. EcoGaps studies how ecosystem knowledge uptake can be enhanced in fragmented political-administrative systems, by focusing on the governance enhancing mechanisms of Ecosystem Accounting and Impact Assessments.
We examine to what extent, how and under what circumstances ecosystem accounting and impact assessment work as procedural integration mechanisms, capable of overcoming fragmented decisions and policy making, and contributing to more sustainable governance of ecosystems.
EcoGaps is based on two main goals: Firstly, we seek to evaluate innovative solutions in ecosystem accounting at local and regional levels in the county of Viken, based on the UN System of Environmental and Economic Accounts – Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA EA). Viken encompasses some of the greatest biological diversity in the country, yet also the highest number of endangered species.
We will test methods in a unique pilot on nature characterization and valuation in Nordre Follo municipality, and develop a roadmap for scaling up implementation to municipal and regional planning in the rest of the region. EcoGaps will also contribute to the further development of “Naturkampen”, a digital tool for benchmarking and measuring the status of the biological diversity.
Secondly, EcoGaps aims at building systematic research regarding conditions and drivers for the integrated application of ecosystem knowledge in spatial land use planning and water management. The assumption is that impact assessments and ecosystem accounts may serve as coordination mechanisms, enhancing the usability and relevance of ecosystem knowledge in political decision-making processes.
By conducting surveys and case studies, we will gather data regarding how they affect across sectors and multilevel coordination within differing institutional and organizational contexts:
- how rules and incentives from the EU affect domestic, ground level practices;
- the coordination at national level between differing legal acts that affect the environment and the nature;
- local and regional level practices and interaction.
EcoGaps will identify best practices and institutional variables fostering both the application of ecosystem knowledge, digital tools, participation, multilevel governance, and coordination across institutional and sectoral divides.