An Introduction to Socio-Environmental Systems: Harvesting Wild Aguaje Fruit in Peru

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Sep 25, 2019
Chelsie Romulo

This case study introduces students to socio-environmental systems using the harvest of Aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) fruit in Peru. Aguaje is a non-timber forest product with complex social and environmental impacts in a region with both heavy mineral development and conservation attention as well as historic disenfranchisement of several indigenous groups. Students go through the process of articulating an SES, defining a problem, and evaluating information from different sources (news articles, white papers, and peer-reviewed literature) to evaluate management strategies and make evidence-based recommendations. They also grapple with making decisions without full information and prioritizing and evaluating information. This is a Problem-Based Learning type of case study to help students practice skills related to environmental management. It is designed for a lower level environmental studies conservation course and best used early in the semester and can be used in conjunction with general introductory material of socio-environmental systems. 

Estimated time frame: 
Units within course (i.e., multiple weeks)
SES learning goals: 
  • Systems Thinking
  • Integrative Research

Key Words: concept mapping, socio-environmental systems, resource management, evidence synthesis

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