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Who is Afraid of Biodiversity? Proposal for a Research Agenda for Environmental History

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There is an urgent need for studying the development of biodiversity in the (recent) past. It is one of the biggest threats to the sustainable future of mankind, which has not, however, received much attention from environmental historians. Several (historical) socio-economic drivers of biodiversity have been recognised; however, the extent, rate and precise causes of current decline remain unknown. A historical perspective on biodiversity and the network of socio-economic factors causing it, will lead to a more inclusive understanding of the complex human-nature relations resulting in biodiversity decline. The models currently used to simulate these processes, and theoretical notions about it, have not been tested against the historical record. To that end, the study is proposed of biodiversity on the basis of historical records and data - by scholars who can combine intimate knowledge of the historical sources with a deep understanding of the complex interaction between humanity and nature. Moreover, a research framework is presented that may be the starting point for the new research agenda. The framework gives a schematic overview of interconnected natural and socio-economic systems across different temporal, spatial and biological scales. Also, as this kind of research cannot focus on one country or region only, international cooperation between environmental historians and historical ecologists is proposed to address these issues in a systematic and global way.
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Keywords: Biodiversity; interdisciplinary research; socio-economic drivers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

This article was made available online on August 14, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Who is Afraid of Biodiversity? Proposal for a Research Agenda for Environmental History".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 0.800. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.918.
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