Cross-system environmental management

Despite many sectors of society striving for sustainability in environmental management, humans often fail to identify and act on the connections and processes responsible for social–ecological tipping points. Part of the problem is the fracturing of environmental management and social–ecological research into ecosystem domains (land, freshwater, and sea).

In this study, we present a perspective on the social–ecological connections across ecosystem domains that emphasize the need for management that connects these domains. We combine real-world examples and a simple dynamic model to illustrate the implications of slow management responses to environmental impacts that traverse ecosystem domains. Finally, the study provides management and research opportunities that arise from this cross-domain lens to foster greater opportunity to achieve environmental and sustainability goals.

The article was published in 2022, you can read it here!

Gladstone-Gallagher, RV, et al. 2022. Social–ecological connections across land, water, and sea demand a reprioritization of environmental management. Elem Sci Anth, 10: 1. DOI:


To protect ecosystems and increase their resilience to on-going and future anthropogenic change, we need new ways of solving complex environmental management issues. In this project, we looked in detail into management across land, freshwater and marine ecosystem boundaries.

As a group of 20 local and international researchers – with expertise in ecology, social science, indigenous studies, economics and system modelling – we investigated New Zealand’s cross-system connections and feedbacks from resilience perspective. We identified principles for managing connections across ecosystems, and developed management recommendations for holistic “land to sea” ecosystem management.


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