School of Science / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Groundwater resources are part of larger social-ecological systems. In this chapter, we review the various dimensions of these complex systems in order to uncover the diversity of elements at stake in the evolution of an aquifer and the loci for possible actions to control its dynamics. Two case studies illustrate how the state of an aquifer is embedded in a web of biophysical and sociopolitical processes. We propose here a holistic view through an IGM-scape that describes the various possible pathways of evolution for a groundwater related social-ecological system. Then we describe the elements of this IGM-scape starting with physical entities and processes, including relations with surface water and quality issues. Interactions with society bring an additional layer of considerations, including decisions on groundwater abstraction, land use changes and even energy related choices. Finally we point out the policy levers for groundwater management and their possible consequences for an aquifer, taking into account the complexity of pathways opened by these levers.
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