Understanding the impact of human activities on nature

The Collective Ecosystem toolkit helps understand the relationship between human activities and the environment by promoting social learning and facilitating a dialogue on nature’s significance in human societies. This toolkit serves as an initial step toward comprehending the interdependence between society and natural ecosystems, fostering awareness of individual and collective responsibilities, and enhancing understanding of the impact of human behaviours on local ecosystems.

Utilizing the concept of “Nature’s Contributions to People” (NCP), the toolkit specifically focuses on the effects of actions and policies influencing the land use of a territory.
With three components unfolding in different phases, its ultimate goal is to support participatory processes, enabling the understanding, visualization, and discussion of these impacts while fostering collective recognition of the agency of non-humans.

What are its key features?

The toolkit is designed as part of a participatory process, comprising three components implemented in consecutive phases. The first phase aims to acquaint users with the concept of Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP) through a card game, exploring how various urban development scenarios may impact the natural environment and its support for human societies.

In the second phase, participants engage with a digital application, individually assigning nominal values to indicate the relevance of each NCP in relation to specific land uses.This process generates a site-specific depiction of nature’s value, forming the foundation for the third and final phase.

An interactive online platform has been crafted to visualise graphical representations derived from the data collected through the voting activity. This platform allows participants to observe the effects of land use changes on a territory’s capacity to provide NCPs.

What can it be used for?

Practitioners and facilitators can employ the toolkit in participatory processes addressing environmental issues or whenever there is a need to collectively reflect on the intricate connections between nature and human societies.

For instance, in a Public Debate or any other forum for public discussion related to a project with clear territorial implications, the toolkit proves valuable for various reasons.

At a broader level, it equips participants with fundamental conceptual tools to interpret nature’s contribution to society and its correlation with human activities, especially land use changes. On a more specific level, it can illuminate conflicting perspectives on decisions at hand, informing discussions about their potential impact on local socio-natural configurations.

Who can benefit from it?

The toolkit embraces the concept of “Nature’s Contributions to People“, thereby recognising the pivotal role of culture in shaping the relationship between humans and nature and fully acknowledging the significance of indigenous and local knowledge.

By valuing these aspects, the toolkit promotes enhanced collaboration among scientists, policymakers, practitioners, and communities. This collaborative effort can lead to a more fruitful exchange of perspectives across various fields, fostering a holistic and integrated approach to addressing environmental challenges.

Moreover, the toolkit aims to cultivate a collective understanding of the impact of specific human behaviors. It supports the gradual process of assuming responsibility while promoting greater collective recognition of the agency of non-humans.

How has it been used by PHOENIX?

In each pilot territory, the final decision on whether and how to utilize the tool will be determined based on the specific co-design process in progress.

Contact our partner to learn more!

For more information about this tool please contact
The University of Florence.

Dr. Andrea Testi andrea.testi@unifi.it
Dr. Cassandra Fontana cassandra.fontana@unifi.it