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Ecosystem restoration in Europe: Can analogies to Traditional Chinese Medicine facilitate the cross-policy harmonization on managing socio-ecological systems?

Gocheva, Kremena, Lü, Yihe, Li, Feng, Bratanova-Doncheva, Svetla, Chipev, Nesho
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.657 pp. 1553-1567
European Union, Oriental traditional medicine, biodiversity, conservation areas, decision making, ecological restoration, ecosystem management, ecosystem services, ecosystems, environmental policy, green infrastructure, humans, monitoring, natural capital, social environment, Bulgaria, China
EU's Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 sets a 15% restoration target. However, the understanding of restoration as a management tool remains ambiguous at EU and Member State levels.As a country with rich biodiversity but low GDP, a well-defined priority setting approach is key for Bulgaria. The “Methodological framework for assessment and mapping of ecosystem condition and ecosystem services in Bulgaria” proposes a transition towards ecosystem management and monitoring of the Socio-Ecological System (SES), to be embedded in the environmental policy framework.We extend the analogy between SES and the human body's system in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a way to inform restoration priority setting and development of restoration and monitoring tools at several levels:1.Overall objective: the sustainability goals correspond to the TCM's objective of a healthy, balanced body2.Restoration objectives and functioning: the desired ecosystem state can be better understood in analogy between the ecosystem structure and functioning framework for multiparametric optimization, and the TCM framework of Ying-Yang, Eight principles, Five elements and organs3.Ecosystem monitoring: Integrated monitoring may benefit from comparison to TCM diagnostics4.Ecosystem management approaches can benefit from the analogy to the TCM system of meridiansWe apply the analogy and find that spatially explicit decision making on restoration, streamlined ecosystem monitoring and a number of other issues (green infrastructure, designation of protected areas, defragmentation and connectivity, cumulative impact assessment, etc.), are easier to understand, communicate, account for and manage. Ecosystem restoration is priority for China and the country has accumulated research and practical experience, including study of links between ecosystem management and the historical principles of Chinese philosophy.The Bulgarian and European approach to ecosystem based management can benefit from analogies to TCM. We derive policy recommendations by analogy, and illustrate them on the example of Natural Capital Accounting.