This study takes an historical approach in order to establish how the form and function of the social-ecological system that represents the Bangladesh south-western coastal zone has changed over recent decades. Time series data for a range of ecosystem services and drivers are analysed to define the range of trends, the presence of change points, slow and fast variables and the significant drivers of change. Since the 1980s, increasing gross domestic product and per capita income mirror rising levels of food and inland fish production. As a result, the size of population below the poverty line has reduced by ~17 %. In contrast, non-food ecosystem services such as water availability, water quality and land stability have deteriorated. Conversion of rice fields to shrimp farms is almost certainly a factor in increasing soil and surface water salinity. Most of the services experienced statistically significant change points between 1975 and 1980, and among the services, water availability, shrimp farming and maintenance of biodiversity appear to have passed tipping points. An environmental Kuznets curve analysis suggests that the point at which growing economic wealth feeds back into effective environmental protection has not yet been reached for water resources. Trends in indicators of ecosystem services and human well-being point to widespread non-stationary dynamics governed by slowly changing variables with an increased likelihood of systemic threshold changes/tipping points in the near future. The results will feed into simulation models and strategies that can define alternative and sustainable paths for land management.
Hossain, S.; Dearing, J.A.; Rahman, M.M.; Salehin, M. Recent changes in ecosystem services and human well-being in the Bangladesh coastal zone. Regional Environmental Change (2015) : 15 pp. [DOI: 10.1007/s10113-014-0748-z]