Fuzzy-based vulnerability assessment of coupled social-ecological systems to multiple environmental hazards and climate change
Mafi-Gholami, D and Pirasteh, S and Ellison, JC and Jaafari, A, Fuzzy-based vulnerability assessment of coupled social-ecological systems to multiple environmental hazards and climate change, Journal of Environmental Management, 299 Article 113573. ISSN 0301-4797 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Climate change and combining related parameters of environmental hazards have left a considerable challenge in assessing social-ecological vulnerability. Here we integrated a fuzzy-based approach in the vulnerability assessment of mangrove social-ecological systems combining environmental parameters, socio-economic, and vegetative components from exposure dimensions, sensitivity and adaptive capacity along the northern coasts of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman for the first time. This study aims to provide critical information for habitat-scale management strategies and adaptation plans by assessing the vulnerability of mangrove social-ecological systems. This study provides a methodology framework that consists of five steps. Step 1: We combined the fuzzy weighted maps of seven environmental hazards, including tidal range, maximum wind speeds, drought magnitude, maximum temperatures, extreme storm surge, sea-level rise, significant wave height, and social vulnerability. This map combination determined that the computed exposure index is from 1.07 to 4.32 across the study areas, with an increasing trend from the coasts of the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman. Step 2: We integrated the fuzzy weighted maps of four sensitivity variables, including area change, health change, seaward edge retreat, and production potential change. The findings show that the sensitivity index is from 1.40 to 2.64 across the study areas, increasing the trend from the Persian Gulf coast to the Gulf of Oman. Step 3: Besides, we combined the fuzzy weighted maps of three adaptive capacity variables, including the availability of migration areas, recruitment, and local communities' participation in restoration projects and education programs. The result showed that the index value across the study areas varies between 0.087 and 2.38, decreasing the trend from the Persian Gulf coast to the Gulf of Oman. Step 4: Implementing fuzzy hierarchical analysis process to determine the relative weight of variables corresponding to exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Step 5: The integration of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity and the vulnerability index maps in the study areas showed variation from 0.25 to 5.92, with the vulnerability of mangroves from the west coast of the Persian Gulf (Nayband) decreasing towards Khamir, then increasing to the eastern coasts of the Gulf of Oman (Jask and Gwadar). Overall, the results indicate the importance of the proposed approach to the vulnerability of mangroves at the habitat scale along a coastal area and across environmental gradients of climatic, maritime and socio-economic variables. This study validated the findings based on the ground truth measurements, and high-resolution satellite data incorporated the Consistency Rate (CR) in the Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process (FAHP). The overall accuracy of all classified remote sensing images and maps consistently exceeded 90%, and the CR of the 25 completed questionnaires was <0.1. Finally, this study indicates differences in vulnerability of various habitats, leading to focus conservation completion and rehabilitation and climate change adaptation planning to support the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-13 implementation.