Utilizing ecosystem services for disaster risk reduction: The role of “scale” and “context”*

In Science and Technology in Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia Potentials and Challenges
Chapter: 12
Book Chapter

Despite much attention on “ecosystem services” and their potential role in disaster risk reduction (DRR), it is still unclear how ecosystem services can effectively be used for developing risk reduction strategies across the level of operations. On one hand, scientists have proved the utility of ecosystem services for DRR beyond doubts, say for example, mangroves play a pivotal role in wave attenuation, however, on the contrary, the key question remains, whether ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) approaches are robust enough to substitute traditional engineered DRR strategies and influence a strategic shift. In addition, it is also questioned that whether the Eco-DRR and hard engineering-based DRR are conflicting process or can be implemented in tandem. Investigating this fundamental question, the chapter introduces the concepts of “scale” and “context” as the defining parameters for making a definite choice between these two risk reduction approaches. By using these concepts and some recent case examples, the chapter formulates a decision-making framework for disaster risk managers to better understand the applicability of Eco-DRR approaches and their mode of operation.