Shaping the role of 'fast' and 'slow' drivers of change in forest-shrubland socio-ecological systems
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The temporal speeds and spatial scales at which ecosystem processes operate are often at odds with the scale and speed at which natural resources such as soil, water and vegetation are managed those. Scale mismatches often occur as a result of the time-lag between policy development, implementation and observable changes in natural capital in particular. In this study, we analyse some of the transformations that can occur in complex forest-shrubland socio-ecological systems undergoing biophysical and socioeconomic change. We use a Multiway Factor Analysis (MFA) applied to a representative set of variables to assess changes in components of natural, economic and social capitals over time. Our results indicate similarities among variables and spatial units (i.e. municipalities) which allows us to rank the variables used to describe the SES according to their rapidity of change. The novelty of the proposed framework lies in the fact that the assessment of rapidity-to-change, based on the MFA, takes into account the multivariate relationships among the system's variables, identifying the net rate of change for the whole system, and the relative impact that individual variables exert on the system itself. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of fast and slow variables on the evolution of socio-economic systems based on simplified multivariate procedures applicable to vastly different socio-economic contexts and conditions. This study also contributes to quantitative analysis methods for long-established socio-ecological systems, which may help in designing more effective, and sustainable land management strategies in environmentally sensitive areas.
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