Co-production of nature's contributions to people in dry rivers: a case study in Murcia, Spain


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Dry rivers are non-perennial rivers with no surface water in their channels except after heavy rainfall or snowmelt. The lack of water flow is often associated with a low provision of Nature's Contributions to People (NCP) and a poor quality of life. However, recent review studies have found evidence of human communities thriving in dry rivers through the co-production of multiple NCP, although no case studies have yet confirmed this evidence. We assessed the capacity of dry rivers and their associated social systems to provide NCP. We selected three dry rivers with high natural, cultural and landscape values in the most arid part of Murcia (Spain). We interviewed 37 representatives of the most influential social groups in the study area to explore the NCP of dry rivers, their synergies and trade-offs. Four material, three non-material and eight regulating NCP were identified, as well as one unique NCP: access to villages and fields through dry riverbeds. Fifty-two synergies were identified, especially between material and non-material NCP, and eight trade-offs. This wide range of NCP and synergies is a consequence of the co-production processes between dry rivers and the social system. NCP co-production seems to be underpinned by the indigenous and local knowledge acquired by the social system over generations about the management of floodwaters, biodiversity and geodiversity. Incorporating this knowledge into research and governance can help raise awareness of the NCP provided by dry rivers and help develop strategies for mitigating and adapting to global change. Dry rivers provide benefits that contribute to people's quality of life. These benefits are co-produced by dry rivers and their associated social systems. The co-production of benefits depends on the traditional knowledge that social systems have acquired over generations.The co-production of benefits between dry rivers and their social systems is a sustainable reference model, providing food, freshwater, medicines, building materials, natural habitats, soil protection, scientific advances, recreation and cultural identity.Benefit co-production and traditional knowledge from dry rivers not only contribute to people's quality of life, but are also a source of strategies for coping with global change, particularly climate change in drylands.Society seems to be unaware of the high value of dry rivers for our quality of life. Integrating benefit co-production and traditional knowledge into governance is essential to revalue these ecosystems and develop effective management policies.
agnes Balazsi,Temporary rivers,ephemeral streams,ecosystem services,open-ended interviews,synergies,indigenous and local knowledge
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