AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Managing wetland complexity in the anthropocene: the Upo wetland

by Geulim Jun

Institution: McGill University
Department: Department of Natural Resource Sciences
Degree: MS
Year: 2015
Keywords: Health And Environmental Sciences - Environmental Sciences
Record ID: 2062620
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile130621.pdf


Wetland loss continues to be one of the major drivers of global environmental change and, despite the plethora of studies conducted, the ecological condition of this ecosystem has not dramatically improved. Most wetland degradation is caused by human activities seeking profit-maximization that result in a general disregard for the complex properties of wetlands. This thesis analyzes management of Upo Wetland in Korea from a policy perspective, including the socio-ecological implications of wetland complexity. The theoretical framework is drawn from a literature review and the management policy literature.I first identify a theoretical framework for policy analysis that includes ecological, economic, and institutional wetland complexity dimensions. In the section on ecological complexity, I introduce and consider difficulties in explicitly understanding the nature of wetland. In the section on economic complexity, I address the theoretical misconceptions about managing wetland complexity under the current economic paradigm. The fundamental issue of the current economic system stems from the rejection of its subordinated relation with ecosystems and the limitations to market valuation approaches when dealing with nature. The socio-ecological implications to wetland institutions, including command and control, community-based, and market-based institution, are analyzed as well as their effectiveness in solving wetland ecosystem degradation at different scales.Based on these three dimensions of wetland ecosystems, I argue that the ecological complexity of Upo wetland reveals a limited understanding of the breath and span of wetland ecological functions. Although Upo Wetland is inextricably connected to other wetlands in Korea (Mokpo, Sajipo, and Jokjibul), it also has profound connections to other environments, such as the Topyeong Stream and Nakdong River. The economic complexity of the Upo Wetland is likely to aggravate difficulties in management despite providing a large number of ecosystem goods and services (ES), including regulating ES (flooding and purifying contaminated water), supporting ES (habitat function), provisioning ES (water supply), and cultural ES (the "Upo Wetland Ecosystem Pavilion"). However, the local government of Changnyeong County mainly promotes policies related to industrial development, mainly considering provisioning ES. The Upo Wetland was designated as an internationally Ramsar wetland site in 1998 and regulated under the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) from the Korean Ministry of the Environment (MoE), with the overarching goal of preserving high diversity (regulating ES) and habitat ecological functions (supporting ES). Government policy assigns the entire task of managing the Upo Wetland to local institutions of the Nakdong River Basin Environmental Office and Changnyeong County, while requiring them to interact across all social levels. However, local residents continue to engage in fishing and agricultural practices not considered in the current policy. This study highlights the need…