Regional integration of past records for management of modern resources and landscapes

22.09 - 24.09.2010
Southampton, UK.


New integrations of historical information at regional scales are needed in order to provide a stronger basis for developing strategies for sustainable management and adaptation to global environmental change.


There is a need to understand how society and the environment have evolved over multi-decadal timescales to create modern landscapes. This can be achieved through integrating instrument, document, palaeoenvironmental and archaeology records within regions to produce socio-environmental profiles.

These profiles can provide the basis for assessing the relative degradation of different ecological services more effectively, identifying and modelling complex socio-environmental interactions, defining system behaviour like trajectories and thresholds, and providing the means to drive and validate local process-based simulation models.

An understanding of socio-environmental dynamics is important for the development of adaptive policies and strategies in all regions, but especially where successful management of key environmental processes, and their interaction with human activities is viewed as critical. For example, within natural wildernesses, biodiversity hotspots, climate change hotspots or regions projected to be particularly vulnerable to combinations of social and biophysical stressors.

The workshop

There is a wealth of historical information available for many regions, but much lies uncoordinated by virtue of disciplinary divisions or unidentified need. The objective of the workshop is to promote an interdisciplinary effort for the compilation of recent multi-decadal historical data as an essential pre-requisite for understanding contemporary system functioning at the regional scale.

Selected regions and lead scientists confirmed so far, include:

- Lower Murray Darling - Peter Gell (Balarat)

- East Africa - Mohammed Umer (Addis Ababa)

- Lower Yangtze basin - Yang Xiangdong (Nanjing)

- New Forest National Park/Hampshire - Mary Edwards/Guy Poppy (Southampton)


- Begin to develop methods and protocols for integrating multi-decadal biophysical and social records within sub-continental regions - data types, databases, visualisation - using selected data sets from different world regions.

- Consider optimal means for reconstructing and analysing complex, evolutionary interactions that have led to the contemporary socio-environmental system - narratives, complex behaviour, resilience theory, information theory, systems modelling.

- Outline a major multi-authored paper on the need and scope for regional integration of past records, with new protocols/methodologies using regional examples from the workshop.


The workshop is the first activity within the Regional Integration theme of the IGBP-PAGES Focus 4 Past Human-Climate-Ecosystem Interactions programme, with strong and complementary links to the IGBP-IHDP-AIMES Integrated History and Future of People on Earth programme (IHOPE). It also links strongly to the University of Southamptons new cognate research area Regional Resource Management.

Post meeting material

> Social-ecological systems in the Anthropocene: The need for integrating social and biophysical records at regional scales (2015), The Anthropocene Review

> Download talks and posters