One of the concepts that helps us better understand the relationship between natural and man-made systems is Spatial Dependency; the idea that ‘everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things’ (Waldo Tobler). For instance, if beach erosion is found in one area then it is very likely that places close to this spot are also subject to erosion. If a coastal dune is destroyed, the impact is not only limited to the built or natural environment no longer being protected from storm surges, erosion and sea level rise, but it also compromises the water balance (dunes store fresh water), habitat and resources for animals and plants, possibly nearby coastal mangroves and coral reefs, and the ability for people to enjoy the coastal jewels.
But spatial dependency is not just about natural resources. It can also be applied to understanding many other issues, including the intrinsic, or indispensable properties of a place, without which it loses its identity. These attributes may include natural resources, existing land uses, people and their communities, and cultural heritage such as architecture, cuisine, music and arts. Analyzing, understanding and then articulating the essence of a particular place is critical no matter what we wish to preserve, restore and develop a particular site or area.
It is paramount to apply scientific site analysis methods to address environmental and natural resources issues. And it is equally important to analyze social, cultural, political, and economic conditions, and take into account the needs, wants and dreams of people.
If the results of recent studies are any indication, people are becoming increasingly interested in protecting the environment and respecting local culture. They want local government and developers to care for the future of the planet, all living things, and its people. There is an awakening to the need for organizations that protect the environment and our social well-being. The risks associated with a failure to meet the expectations of an increasingly conscientious and demanding public cannot be underestimated. Hence, it is important to work towards a better understanding of how everything is related and interconnected and create strategies and mechanism that allow us formulate solutions that advance resilience, sustainability and the human condition.
We all depend on a healthy ocean; a healthy ocean depends on us. Let us be the change we would like to see in the world. Our new Ocean Sentinels Club is proof that conservation can be fun, rewarding and effective. The Club unites and empowers citizens to advocate for the conservation of dolphins and the marine environment across Palm Beach County, and beyond. Join us. The time is now. It begins with you.