Agua, actores sociales y servicios de los ecosistemas en la cuenca del río Muga. Una aproximación socioecológica

This doctoral thesis aims to identify and characterize the relationships between stakeholders and water resources through the sociocultural and spatial analysis of the water ecosystem services (WES) in the social-ecological system that conforms the Muga river basin. Ecosystem services, understood as a component of social-ecological systems, represent the analytical framework that allows to connect people with nature. Likewise, they allow to capture, express and visualize the key role of aquatic ecosystems in providing multiple benefits to human beings, in order to contribute to the improvement of current and future management of water resources, in such a way that this is increasingly effective, sustainable, and resilient in a context of global change. The methodological approach used in this thesis is based on a mixed method, combining semi-structured interviews and participatory cartography with the key stakeholders of the river basin, as tools that allow a sociocultural evaluation of the ES, in order to: I) identify the most important water ES in the river basin and the benefits associated with them; II) qualitatively and spatially explore the preferences and value systems of different stakeholder groups; III) identify and map the areas perceived as hotspots of supply, demand and degradation-vulnerability of the WES and study the spatial relationships of the WES flows; and IV) reflect on participatory techniques and the importance of integrating different knowledge as essential tools in decision-making for a sustainable management of water resources. The main results identified show that aquatic ecosystems are not only perceived as large producers of multiple benefits, but also encompass a plurality of values and differences in the perceptions expressed. These differences were shown especially in relation to the types of ES perceived (provision, regulating or cultural) and their spatial distribution (SPU, SBU, dSPU) in the Muga river basin. Likewise, participatory mapping has highlighted how the elements mapped by the stakeholders were based on different personal motivations, expressing values that are often divergent between them. It was also shown how certain factors interfere with the way people perceive ecosystems and their benefits, which, in turn, influences the relationships between the multiple actors and the configuration of the governance model. The different levels of dependence of stakeholders on ecosystems and the typology of social-ecological changes in a river basin can, in fact, generate positive or negative effects (or both) (trade-offs and synergies) for various types of actors, who, therefore, perceive these changes differently, leading to conflicts between groups and situations of unequal power. It was observed that each actor has the capacity of action and decision, both in the way of managing the flows of WES and ecosystems and in making decisions, modifying their behaviors (for example, from collaborative to competitive), not only in relation to what the other actors do within the system, but also in relation to their own perceptions. It was revealed how these social mechanisms not only generate an unequal distribution of ES flows, but can also strengthen asymmetric power relations between stakeholders, favoring or preventing access to WES flows. Finally, we reflected on the importance of participatory methods as useful tools to identify and express the plurality and diversity of values, relationships, and knowledge. It showed how stakeholders express complex mental constructs regarding the concept of river basin or elements related to it, despite not having the same technical-administrative knowledge as policy-makers. These aspects highlighted the importance of integrating this diversity in the design and co-production of landscape management policies, as factors that contribute to a better understanding of the complexity of social-ecological dynamics. In conclusion, this thesis has the ultimate purpose of contributing to a better understanding of human-nature relationships, using the analysis framework of social-ecological systems and ES as useful tools for improving current and future management of water resources, to move towards increasingly effective, inclusive, resilient, and just forms of adaptive governance in a context of global change. ​
​L'accés als continguts d'aquesta tesi queda condicionat a l'acceptació de les condicions d'ús establertes per la següent llicència Creative Commons: