State-of-the-lagoon reports as vehicles of cross-disciplinary integration
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- NGI articles 
Original versionIntegrated Environmental Assessment and Management. 2016, 12 (4), 690-700. 10.1002/ieam.1802
An integrative approach across disciplines is needed for sustainable lagoon and estuary management as identified by integrated coastal zone management. The ARCH research project (Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons) has taken initial steps to overcome the boundaries between disciplines and focus on cross-disciplinary integration by addressing the driving forces, challenges, and problems at various case study sites. A model was developed as a boundary-spanning activity to produce joint knowledge and understanding. The backbone of the model is formed by the interaction between the natural and human systems, including economy and governance-based subsystems. The model was used to create state-of-the-lagoon reports for 10 case study sites (lagoons and estuarine coastal areas), with a geographical distribution covering all major seas surrounding Europe. The reports functioned as boundary objects to build joint knowledge. The experiences related to the framing of the model and its subsequent implementation at the case study sites have resulted in key recommendations on how to address the challenges of cross-disciplinary work required for the proper management of complex social-ecological systems such as lagoons, estuarine areas, and other land-sea regions. Cross-disciplinary integration is initially resource intensive and time consuming; one should set aside the required resources and invest efforts at the forefront. It is crucial to create engagement among the group of researchers by focusing on a joint, appealing overall concept that will stimulate cross-sectoral thinking and focusing on the identified problems as a link between collected evidence and future management needs. Different methods for collecting evidence should be applied including both quantitative (jointly agreed indicators) and qualitative (narratives) information. Cross-disciplinary integration is facilitated by functional boundary objects. Integration offers important rewards in terms of developing a better understanding and subsequently improved management of complex social-ecological systems.