Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Sea otters, social justice, and ecosystem-service perceptions in Clayoquot Sound, Canada

 2017 Apr;31(2):343-352. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12795. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Author information

Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Department of Social Psychology, London School of Economics, 3rd Floor Queens House, 55/56 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LJ, U.K.


We sought to take a first step toward better integration of social concerns into empirical ecosystem service (ES) work. We did this by adapting cognitive anthropological techniques to study the Clayoquot Sound social-ecological system on the Pacific coast of Canada's Vancouver Island. We used freelisting and ranking exercises to elicit how locals perceive ESs and to determine locals' preferred food species. We analyzed these data with the freelist-analysis software package ANTHROPAC. We considered the results in light of an ongoing trophic cascade caused by the government reintroduction of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and their spread along the island's Pacific coast. We interviewed 67 local residents (n = 29 females, n = 38 males; n = 26 self-identified First Nation individuals, and n = 41 non-First Nation individuals) and 4 government managers responsible for conservation policy in the region. We found that the mental categories participants-including trained ecologists-used to think about ESs, did not match the standard academic ES typology. With reference to the latest ecological model projections for the region, we found that First Nations individuals and women were most likely to perceive the most immediate ES losses from the trophic cascade, with the most certainty. The inverse was found for men and non-First Nations individuals, generally. This suggests that 2 historically disadvantaged groups (i.e., First Nations and women) are poised to experience the immediate impacts of the government-initiated trophic cascade as yet another social injustice in a long line of perceived inequities. Left unaddressed, this could complicate efforts at multistakeholder ecosystem management in the region.


antropología cognitiva; aversión por la pérdida; cercano a la costa; coastal; cognitive anthropology; costero; ecosystem services; indigenous people; inequality; inequidad; loss aversion; nearshore; personas indígenas; servicios ambientales