Abstract for:Using a past-present-future link to investigate changes in Ecosystem Services within the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa

Conservation and agricultural landscapes provide Ecosystem Services that vary over time in response to social, ecological and environmental factors. Management often fails to consider this variability, with consequences for the sustainability of social-ecological systems. This paper investigates the variability and potential of increasing resilience to the negative impacts of climate change by mainstreaming Ecosystem Services into agriculture and conservation. It aims to inform appropriate land-use governance that increases resilience and sustainability, by defining the historical range of variability/safe operating space. It uses an interdisciplinary systems dynamics and palaeoecological approach. The system dynamics component included stakeholder engagement, which allowed for the development of a dynamic hypothesis, expert validation to refine the model’s accuracy, and for future scenarios planning. The palaeoecological component involved the collection and analysis of changes in palaeo-proxies (fossil pollen, spores, charcoal, diatoms, and geochemical markers) from sediment cores over the past 200-10 000 years from contrasting landscapes in the Cape Floristic Region. The results highlights that maintaining the Ecosystem Services Index within the historical range of variability can promote a healthy, multi-functional, climate-resilient social-ecological system. Fostering a habit of adaptive and sustainable land-use management within operational and governance structures is essential for land-use management in a changing world.