Drivers

Drivers are any natural or human-induced factor that directly, or indirectly, cause a change in an ecosystem (Carpenter et al. 2006), and that interact across spatial, temporal, and organizational scales to effect ecosystem change in a region, or a specific location (Nelson et al. 2006). Insufficient stream flows, reduced water quality, degraded riparian areas, and warmer stream temperatures are examples of states, or conditions, that exist in the Mid-Coast region of Oregon as a result of a suite of drivers that interact to create these conditions. Understanding the drivers that influence ecosystem change and status, assessing conditions to articulate the current status, or condition, and articulating clear objectives supported by specific actions that improve conditions to desired states, is critical to successful plan implementation.

 

Key drivers that exist in the Mid-Coast region include both direct and indirect drivers (Nelson et al. 2006):

 

  • Indirect drivers
     

    • Demographic—There is an increasing human population living in the Mid-Coast region as well as a surge in coastal visitors during the summer months, when peak demand for water coincides with the period of lowest water availability.
       

    • Economic—There is a need for adequate water supplies to support local industries, such as commercial fishing and timber processing, which are key economic engines in the Mid-Coast region.
       

    • Sociopolitical—Mid-Coast residents express a desire for more sustainable and equitable approaches to managing and using water.

 

  • Direct drivers

 

  • Climate variability and change—Climate change stressors include drought, warmer stream temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen, reduced stream flows, and increased winter flood risk and turbidity, all of which are affecting water quality and quantity in the Mid-Coast.

 

  • Nutrient and chemical inputs—Excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, can contribute to water quality impairments, such as algal blooms, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll and pH changes, in streams (Borok 2014).

 

  • Land conversion—Urban expansion and development can place significant demands on ecosystem services and alter the quality of those services.
     

  • Biological invasions and diseases—Invasive species and other biological invasions create monocultures and outcompete natives as well as effect human health (e.g., knotweeds).