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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
WED4.6: Ecosystem based approaches and engineering measures
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Session Chair: Radhika MURTI, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Session Chair: Frank GRAF, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Location: Sanada 1


Session Abstract


Land use change and human health in the Eastern Himalayas: an adaptive ecosystem


International center for INtegrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal, Federal Democratic Republic of

Human health is essential to poverty reduction and human development (WHO, 2006). The universal enjoyment of good health is acknowledged as a fundamental human right (WHO, 1992). However, human health is affected by environment, particularly ecosystem services. The WHO estimates that 24 per cent of global human disease burden is caused by the environmental factors whilst the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment clearly shows the close linkages between ecosystem services and human well being. Himalayan region is a hot spot for biological and cultural diversity. It provides rich ecosystem services for the 150 million people living in this region and also the world at large. Unfortunately these ecosystem services have been increasingly threatened and encroached by unsustainable and inequitable development policies and programs as well as climate change. In this backdrop, ICIMOD and its partners in Nepal, Tibet and Yunnan Province of China conducted a research by using EcoHealth approach in eastern Himalaya to understand the linkages between land use change and human health. The project explored the answers for the following research questions: What are the human health issues affected by changes in ecosystem services and social change associated with land use change today? How is human health affected by changes in ecosystem services and social change associated with land use change? How can EcoHealth approaches be applied to generate information that will contribute to improved health and wellbeing as well as improved environmental sustainability? The findings reveals that the linkages between land use change, ecosystem services and human health in Himalayan region are complicated, diverse, dynamic and often mediated by social factors. EcoHealth approach has greater potential to develop workable solution to address the issue of ecosystem service degradation and to improve human health.

An ecosystem-based resilience analysis of Infanta, Quezon, Philippines

Noralene Menchavez UY, Rajib SHAW

Kyoto University, Japan

In recent years, the case for ecosystem approaches in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is strongly argued because losses can be reduced and safer and resilient communities built by ensuring resource sustainability and enhancing ecosystem resilience. Recognizing the interdependencies of ecological, physical, economic, social and institutional actors and that community-level perceptions can shape adaptation actions, a study is conducted through a survey of 36 village councils in Infanta, Quezon, Philippines utilizing a questionnaire covering 5 dimensions, 25 parameters and 125 measures selected based on the local context of Infanta to gain an understanding of the level of resilience in mountain, riverine, urban, agricultural plain, estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Results show that overall resilience levels of ecosystems lie between 3.08 (medium resilience) and 3.26 (high resilience) on a scale of 1 to 5. The coastal ecosystem demonstrates the highest resilience while the mountain ecosystem shows the lowest resilience. Furthermore, spatial analysis of 36 villages in the ecological, physical, economic, social and institutional dimensions show that resilience levels vary from 2.57 (low resilience) to 3.51 (high resilience). Most of the villages show medium to high resilience with three villages demonstrating very high resilience in the physical dimension; seven villages in the institutional dimension; and 12 villages in the social dimension. Only three villages show very low resilience in physical, economic and institutional dimensions. On the whole, overall resilience levels in the 36 villages exhibit high levels in the social dimension and low levels in the economic dimension. By assessing the resilience of ecosystems as attempted in this study, a baseline is determined where entry points for adaptation actions that are responsive to prevailing ecosystem conditions can be identified, positive and negative factors addressed and gaps and opportunities acted upon to enhance the resilience of Infanta’s ecosystems.

Investigating the performance of coastal ecosystems for hazard mitigation


1University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, Democratic Socialist Republic of; 2Universiy of Notre Dam, USA

Indian Ocean coastlines offer a wide range of natural defences against wave action and currents. These include the offshore seabed, sand banks, coral reefs on which waves break, beaches, dune systems and coastal vegetation. Field investigations arising from the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 highlighted that natural systems had the capacity to resist the impacts of extreme coastal hazards comprising high amplitude waves and strong currents, provided that threshold stability values of the natural systems were not exceeded. The improved performance of hybrid systems was also evident.

The paper presents a classification of mitigation measures and describes investigations to assess the performance of coastal ecosystems for hazard mitigation.

Firstly, it provides a classification of mitigation measures and focuses on critical issues relating to the performance of coral reefs, sand dunes and coastal vegetation for wave energy dissipation as observed from post tsunami surveys. The classification also provides a comparison with artificial measures thus providing the platform to develop effective hybrid solutions. It is important that such measures are incorporated within a multi-hazard coastal zone management framework giving due consideration to the magnitude and the frequency of occurrence of all hazards.

Secondly, two case studies are presented on physical modeling of simulated coral reef systems and coastal vegetation, designed to assess and quantify the performance of important buffering aspects that were identified from the field surveys. Results are presented from each study. It is evident that natural defence systems can be effectively used either individually or via a hybrid approach for coastal hazard mitigation.

Hazard management in a debris flow affected area – Spreitgraben, Switzerland

Daniel TOBLER, Isabelle KULL

GEOTEST AG, Switzerland

Since 2009 every year several extremely erosive debris flows occurred in the Spreitgraben near Guttannen. It started with small and harmless flows. Within three years they became huge, destructive events with enormous hazard potential. During this period a total amount of 650‘000 m3 bedload has been transported into the main river. Strong erosion along the debris flow channel caused considerable deposition at the confluence of the channel and the Aare River. Until now, no constructive protection measure to stop the process evolution has been planned due to the intensity of the erosion and deposition.

Important infrastructures are affected more and more; the major gas pipeline be-tween Germany and Italy had to be relocated and two houses had to be abandoned. The main road between the two adjacent villages is endangered in different places or has been locally destroyed already. The only reasonable solution to face these natural hazard processes is land use planning, meaning to avoid any sort of human activity in the fast growing zone of deposition.

As a temporary measure an extensive and sophisticated early warning system has been installed. A profound knowledge of the ongoing processes is the base for a reliable hazard and risk management. By means of a debris flow model scenario based predictions for the future have been simulated. Hazardous areas have been defined. They build the base for the safety and monitoring concept. In a project handbook the role, task, responsibilities and cooperation with all affected infrastructure owners and public authorities is defined.

The presentation focuses on the hazard management in a highly endangered area with an enormous vulnerability. The devastating debris flows push the authorities to adapt yearly to new situations. Due to the high frequency of events the established system is already well approved – a unique case in Switzerland.

Impact of climate change, land use change and residential mitigation measures on damage and risk assessment

Jennifer K. POUSSIN1,2, Philip J. WARD1,2, Philip BUBECK1,2,3, Jeroen C.J.H. AERTS1,2

1Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 2Amsterdam Global Change Institute (AGCI), VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 3German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Section Hydrology, Germany

Flood risk throughout Europe increased in past decades, and is projected to increase further due to continued development in flood prone areas and climate change. Several adaptation strategies can be used to limit this increase. These strategies include flood protection measures such as storm surge barriers and dikes, but also spatial zoning and flood proofing of houses. In recent years, studies have shown that adequate undertaking of flood-proofing measures can considerably decrease the costs of floods for households. However, there is little insight into how such measures can decrease the risk at the basin level, now and in the future. To gain such insights, a model was developed and applied to the Meuse river basin, in the region of Limburg, southeast Netherlands. We used the Damagescanner model with land use maps for 2000 and 2030 to represent exposure, and inundation maps for current and future climates to represent the hazard. The research shows that the annual risk increase due to land use changes alone, climate change alone, and land use and climate changes combined, could be up to, respectively, 108 %, 37 %, and 185 %. The implementation of spatial planning already decreases the risk by up to 25 % to 45 %. Adaptation factors subsequently applied to assess the potential impact of three adaptation strategies (dry-proofing, wet-proofing, and dry- and wet-proofing combined), show that a wide implementation of the strategies in residential areas could decrease the annual risk by up to 25 %. However, if implemented only on new buildings in 2030, the strategies would only decrease the annual risk by 5 %. A final step was taken to assess the potential risk reduction of an additional spatial zoning in 2030. Results show that this zoning combined with adaptation strategies could reduce the risk by up to 22 %.

Protection against muddy floods: perception of one protection system (fascines) for local actors in Alsace (France)

Carine HEITZ1, Géraldine FLINOIS1,2, Sandrine GLATRON2

1Irstea-GESTE, France; 2LIVE-CNRS, France

For several years, an increase of muddy floods frequency (and associated damages) is noticed in the Alsacian region (NE of France). In 2008, the regional authority ("Conseil Général") with the collaboration of the Chamber of Agriculture decided to set up, directly on farmlands, micro-structures called “fascines” (faggots of brushwood). These little protection systems allow to decrease the muddy floods velocity and to capture the sediments that are transported decreasing by this way the vulnerability in risk prone areas located downstream the catchment. These protections present two advantages: they are very easy and cheap to set up. In the region, we can list 400 fascines, step up in 21 municipalities exposed to the muddy floods risk.

This study focuses on farmers' perception of these fascines in order to understand their potential acceptability of this kind of mitigation measure and to highly the main issues linked to the democratisation of these protective measures in the whole risk prone areas. The methodology used is a questionnaires (N=37) held among farmers in 5 municipalities exposed to muddy floods risk.

The main results show that the fascines are perceived as a restrictive tool: the most of the farmers mentioned that their maintenance is more important than for other mitigation measures such as hedges, non-inversion tillage, grass strips,.... also proposed in the questionnaire. Moreover the "real" efficiency of the fascines against the muddy floods propagation is questioned by the farmers as well as their integration in the landscape.

Among others, these results allow to highly the main restraints in the development of such mitigation measures and have been directly used by the Chamber of Agriculture in order to improve their information campaigns among the farmers to improve the use of the fascines in risk mitigation polices and risk prone areas planning.

Environmental and ecological solutions 21st century technology


VVSC FZ LLC UAE, United Kingdom

Drought pacification rain making systems, marginal land crop production enhancement, and saltwater irrigation all were futuristic terminologies until the 21st century. Thanks to a group of scientists based within UAE many of today’s environmental and humanitarian challenges can now be addressed using state of the art molecular restructuring of water, with numerous benefits. A clear cloudless sky is truly a colossal storehouse for huge supplies of fresh water, although it is a mistake to preach that the atmospheric vapours are supposedly a distillate. According to reliable scientific findings the atmospheric water conversely holds a great deal of numerous chemicals. Magnetized water molecules will radically alter and accelerate physical and chemical transformations; allowing rain clouds to be created; clouds to be discharged in specific locations; irrigation to be enhanced to produce class A crops within marginal land; the enhancement of existing crops to increase productivity; ability to desalinate salt contaminated ground back into production; improve the propagation of seeds; strengthening and speeding up new plants growth; reduce the use of fertilizers; reduce the disease rate; enable the use of brackish salt water as irrigation with increased benefits over fresh water; improve fresh drinking water supplies reducing the quantity required but retaining the benefits to humans and animals. This science is the secret to the key to unlock access to a variety of challenges both now within our fragile world and in future within a potential crisis ridden world with conflict over food production and supply and fresh water management and availability. This presentation will outline the key initiatives through the use of magnetic technology applications that will help address, ease and solve many of today’s humanitarian challenges in marginal, drought and famine challenged environments.

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