Natural Resource Management - (15 credits)

In the last 50 years global gross domestic product has doubled, enabling immense progress in parts of the world, and providing a quality lifestyle for millions of people. However, this economic growth has been fuelled by grossly unsustainable demands on the planet’s natural resources. Overexploitation together with the production of non-recyclable waste and pollution has driven many of the natural ecosystems into a state of collapse or irreversible change. Estimated boundaries of tolerance for ecosystem structures and function, including biodiversity, climate and nitrates have been exceeded. The United Nations 2019 Global Resources Outlook report reveals that 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress are caused by resource extraction and processing. These same activities contribute to about half of global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the benefits of this type of resource use disproportionately limited to a relatively small section of global society in developed parts of the world. High-income countries maintain levels of per capita material footprint consumption that are 60 per cent higher than upper-middle income countries and more than thirteen times the level of the low-income countries. Economic growth which comes at the expense of our planet is simply not sustainable. Through the theory and principles of systems science this module critically examines cause-effect dynamics and drivers of change in land use management, and the implications of unsustainable global food systems and natural resource management on climate, biodiversity and human well-being. The complexity of the problem is a central tenet, and so the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach is emphasised throughout: one that interrogates current problems in land use practice through the lenses of contemporary scientific theory, specifically, complex systems theory, ecosystem theory and principles of adaptive management. Using case studies, the student is tasked with analysing models of sustainable development and nature based solutions, and to work with concepts of cooperative, multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder based approaches.