Addressing the environmental challenges of the 21st century requires substantial changes to the way modern society views and manages ecosystems. In particular, many authors contend that fundamental transformation of the largely sectoral, expert-centered ecosystem-management institutions of modern, Western societies is needed.
There is increasing agreement that more adaptive, integrated, collaborative ecosystem-management approaches, interlinked at multiple scales, would improve society’s ability to sustainably manage complex social–ecological systems. Therefore, understanding processes of transformation, and factors that may enable transformation in ecosystem management, has become an active research area.
We explore ecosystem-management transformations using a social-innovation framework. Based on three local-level case studies of transformation in freshwater management, we provide a pilot assessment of factors that may promote the emergence and adoption of integrated, collaborative ecosystem-management approaches.