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The overall objective of the group was to develop underpinning bio-physical and socio-economic sciences that provide building blocks for Integrated Watershed Management (IWM), with special focus on coastal areas. Consequently, research efforts are directed to:
     - Hydrological studies: The objective is to expand and combine current knowledge on hydrological processes in natural and rural land uses into a multi-criteria decision support system that aids in integrated and sustainable watershed management. This decision support system is a formalisation of a long-standing expertise in land-use development and planning issues, including the involvement of institutional and private stakeholders.
     - Life cycle thinking: In line with international research trends on environmental sustainability, the objective is to develop approaches for carbon accounting in forest products and the quantification of the carbon sequestration capacity of forest land uses, as well as to apply life cycle assessment and carbon footprint methodologies to agricultural and industrial products.
     - Pollution treatment technologies: Urban and industrial land uses lead to the generation of point and diffuse source solid, liquid and gas emissions. The objective was to develop and apply aerobic and anaerobic processes to solid waste management and industrial wastewater treatment, thus contributing to pollution management strategies for coastal areas.
     - Integrated coastal zone management: The objective is to develop long-term holistic approaches for identification, assessment and implementation of sustainable socio-economic resource use futures for coastal areas, bringing together stakeholders involved in the development and management of coastal natural resources within a framework that facilitates the integration of their interests and responsibilities.
     - Planning and environmental sustainability: The objective is to develop and apply research on theories, concepts, instruments and decision-making procedures associated to land use planning and environmental sustainability, centered in land and environmental issues and framed in the need to study how land and territory are integrated in the conception and implementation of environmental policy instruments.

Future Objectives

Key research objective is not only to advance and coordinate underpinning bio-physical and socio-economic sciences, but also to develop integrated approaches that aid in the development and achievement of Integrated Catchment and Coastal Zone Management (ICCZM) plans for sustainable development and resilient futures. To this end, underpinning disciplinary as well as integrative cross-disciplinary research will be developed along the following lines:
     - Hydrological and water quality research will step up from plot-scale to catchment-scale soil, nutrient and chemical run-off and leaching, with special focus on wildfires. On- and off-site effects are considered by linking hydrological and sediment/nutrient/chemical transport processes with surface water quality and ecological status, while using eco-toxicological experiments in aquatic habitats to assess ecosystem impacts.
     - Carbon accounting research will expand to a wider variety of forest(ry) land uses and forest products, while stepping up from pilot-scale to catchment-scale to assess greenhouse gas (GHG) emission patterns associated with land use change. Uncertainty associated with estimation of GHG balances for different land uses is to be reduced. Life cycle assessment and carbon footprint research will expand to assess the environmental performance of bio-energy systems, including land use change impacts.
     - Pollution management research will focus on development of pollution abatement and treatment technologies as well as recycling of waste where invested energy and resources in treatment can be turned into value-added by-products. Through development of fermentation strategies for biopolymer production from renewable resources and collaboration with industries for sludge and wastewater use, this research is important in closing water, materials and nutrient cycles in industrial processes.
     - Landscape ecological research will focus on development of systematic conservation planning approaches for coastal ecosystems, i.e. that simultaneously assess biodiversity priorities for interlinked terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. We go beyond the standard biodiversity values from natural land uses, by emphasizing the potential role of human-made land uses in providing ecosystem services for the achievement of biodiversity targets.
     - Socio-psychological research will focus on development and application of social perception and institutional analysis studies, to identify and characterize social norms and values as well as institutional constructs that condition, facilitate and constrain community change towards sustainable futures.
     - Environmental-economic research will focus on the development of conceptual approaches for integrated natural resource planning, management and implementation, comprising: i) exploration of sustainable resource use targets as well as corresponding land use arrangements that comply with these targets; ii) assessment of the effectiveness of institutions, instruments and regulations that induce change towards these sustainable resource use targets and corresponding land use arrangements; iii) facilitation and acceleration of corresponding and sustainable community change.

Research Labs

CZPM RG is organized in 3 Laboratories: a) the Eco-hydrological Lab; b) the Resources Management Lab; c) the Lab of Integrated Planning

Eco-Hydrology Laboratory

The critical role of freshwater resources for human well-being has been widely recognized since long, especially in regions exposed to dry spells and droughts such as the Mediterranean Basin. The importance of soils and the ecosystem services that they provide to mankind, however, have by and large been ignored by society as a whole till relatively recently, in spite soils play a determining role in the terrestrial water cycle. Nonetheless, it is now broadly accepted that, worldwide, both freshwater and soil resources are heavily threatened by growing pressure from human exploitation - especially due to increasing population, changing socio-economic consumption patterns, and intensification of land use, supported by technological developments as well as scientific advances in agronomy and forestry - and that this is likely to be further aggravated in the future by the foreseeable changes in climate and associated changes in land use. To face these threats, there is an urgent need for in-depth knowledge and understanding of how water and soil resources are being affected by past and present land use, and how they will expectedly be affected by future land use.

To address this need, the Eco-Hydrology Laboratory (EHL) has as overarching aim to develop and test integrated approaches, combining measurements and modelling, to the assessment of the impacts of human activities on soil and water resources under present-day as well as likely future climate and socio-economic conditions.

Currently, the Eco-Hydrology Laboratory has four principal areas of research:

● Forest soils and hydrology: to monitor and model the impacts of changes in (planted) forest type and in forest management practices (e.g. logging and bench terracing) on soil physical, chemical and biological properties and processes as well as on runoff generating processes across spatial scales from (micro-)plots  to experimental catchments and regional river basins;

● Wildfires: to measure and predict the on- and off-site effects of wildfire regimes (fire frequency, recurrence interval, severity) and of traditional post-fire land management operations (e.g. logging and extraction of wood and logging residues) on terrestrial and down-stream aquatic ecosystems, integrating the effects on fauna (terrestrial and aquatic), vegetation, soils, biogeochemical cycles (in particular carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus) and geomorphological processes (in particular runoff generation, soil erosion, soil fertility losses and pollutant exports);

● Agricultural soil and surface water quality:  to determine and simulate the impacts of changes in agricultural land use/cover and in agricultural land management practices on soil quality (combining physical, chemical and biological indicators) and associated soil ecosystem services, with a special emphasis on surface water quality and availability;

● Innovative soil conservation measures: to design and test, especially under field conditions, novel land-use practices that enhance soil ecosystem services by preventing (further) soil degradation or restoring degraded soil, such as the application onto recently burnt soils of forest logging residues (“mulching”) or the incorporation of biochar into agricultural soils that are drought-prone or vulnerable to erosion by water or wind.

The scope of EHL’s research is to advance the eco-hydrological sciences that can and should underpin local, regional and national decision-making processes on sustainable land use and sustainable natural resources management in a global change context.

For more information, please click here or contact Jan Jacob Keizer (jjkeizer@ua.pt; Lab chair) or Nelson Abrantes (njabrantes@ua.pt; Lab vice-chair).

Laboratory of Integrated Planning (LIP)

Laboratory of Integrated Planning (LIP)

Terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems are linked through a number of bio-physical as well as socio-economic and political-institutional processes that are, in turn, affected by pressures from global change. These linkages constitute a host of mutual benefits as well as a range of negative impacts and hazards, potentially leading to tensions, conflicts and welfare losses. A core challenge lies in the provision of research support aiming at risk reductions from environmental hazards in socio-ecological systems at the land-sea interface, through more sustainable and resilient use and management of natural resources and ecosystem services that sustain economies, societies and human well-being.

The overall objective of the Coastal Zone Planning and Management’s (CZPM) Laboratory of Integrated Planning (LIP) is to develop cutting edge trans-disciplinary approaches as well as impact in the area of sustainable and resilient environmental and natural resources planning and management in linked terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine socio-ecological systems. In particular, the four focal research areas are:

   • Integrated planning and management: to develop innovative approaches and spatial planning techniques for the sustainable and resilient management of catchment, coastal and marine ecosystems, services and values, integrated in spatial planning and governance plans and policies;

   • Environmental and resource governance: to analyse current and explore potential (future) treaties, regulations, plans, institutions, instruments and policies that respond to global change challenges, and allow for sustainable and resilient use and distribution of resources and benefits across agents;

  • Social and economic assessment: to develop and test novel, spatially explicit and dynamic approaches for integrated resources management from a social and economic perspective, with an emphasis on cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, efficiency, equity and instrument assessments; and

  • Participatory research: to develop participatory approaches towards sustainable and resilient resources management, with an emphasis on social perception, stakeholder involvement, stakeholder engagement, and participatory development and implementation.

The scope of our research is to advance socio-economic and political-institutional sciences that underpin integrated and adaptive management approaches, and to develop novel methods for integrated explorative, predictive and facilitative approaches that support private and public sectors in the implementation of the principles of environmental sustainability, economic efficiency and social equity in catchment, coastal and marine resources planning and management. For more information, please click here or contact Peter Cornelis Roebeling (peter.roebeling@ua.pt; Lab leader)