Case Studies

Socio-Economic Connections

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Healthy bays and watersheds are integral to our quality of life. Ecosystems and their natural processes provide goods and services to benefit human society. A degradation in ecosystem function leads to a decline in human well-being. The economic value of ecosystem services generated by healthy bays and watersheds can be assessed through study of human uses and the values associated with use and non-use. The health of the bay is influenced by activities that occur upstream, driven by the values and choices of those in the watershed.

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the developer of the award winning community of Lakewood Ranch, recognizes good business practice and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. The poor environmental reputation of some developers is historically justifiable, but current land use and development regulations require good practices and encourage best practices, which is good for business and the environment. In developing new communities, restoring natural hydrology, removing exotic species and creating natural areas that are functional and attractive creates a readily marketable product.

Existing older developments can be retrofitted to solve stormwater problems created prior to the adoption of stormwater regulations. For example, the Pelican Cove Homeowner’s Association worked with Sarasota County to engineer a solution and received grant funding from Southwest Florida Water Management District to retrofit their property to capture and retain stormwater that previously caused flooding and flowed untreated into the bay. Thus through individuals taking action in their own community, Pelican Bay improved bay stewardship and safeguarded their property at the same time.

How can watershed stewardship and bay friendly choices be communicated and cultivated? Certain aspects of cognitive psychology can provide insights. First, people are not always rational about their decision-making; much of our information processing is unconscious, so the learning environment and context matter. Although data on cost-benefits is important, people often make decisions based on a more complex unconscious trade-off of values and beliefs. Framing the choices in a way that is already familiar and meaningful is most effective, especially when the message is delivered or demonstrated by a trusted source or peer.

Roundtable Panel Discussion



An edition of WaterAtlas.org
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An Edition of wateratlas.org