What prompts group action to protect the environment?

Posted on October 15, 2015

There are plenty of studies that describe how group action can improve the environmental quality of local streams, but relatively few have examined how collaboration is prompted in the first place. It seems that shifts in environmental policy require some sort of catalyst (trigger event) as well as a particular set of background conditions. An analysis of 49 research papers containing case studies of watershed groups in the U.S.A. found that only 27 articles included information on trigger events. Such events were divided into two main categories, namely intentional and nonintentional events. Intentional events were those resulting from government regulation (e.g., the listing of endangered species in streams); from new data on stream conditions; from recommendations on the formation of new groups (e.g., by regional planning or regulatory authorities); from new funding opportunities; and from the efficient reorganisation of existing groups. Non-intentional trigger events were reactions to construction projects, such as dams and highways; to natural disasters, such as fish kills; or to accidental industrial discharges, such as mine seepage, chemical spills, or wastewater overflows. The authors recommended that more work be carried out to better judge the prevalence of different types of trigger events and their relative success in stimulating policy change.

Reference: Prokopy et al. 2014. A typology of catalyst events for collaborative
watershed management in the United States. Society and Natural Resources, 27, 1177–1191.

Posted in: conservation, social