Social Indicators Research

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 255–265 | Cite as

Natural Change in the Environment: A Challenge to the Pressure-State-Response Concept

  • A. R. Berger
  • R. A. Hodge


The pressure-state-response framework is a powerful approach to environmental assessment. In many of its current expressions, however, it ignores the background natural processes that play a major role in determining environmental and ecosystem health. Clearly, policies must be focused on human actions that scar the landscape and harm the environment, but coping with environmental change also requires an assessment of the natural processes that take place whether or not human influences are at work. A newly-developed class of environmental indicators (geoindicators), presented here in brief, may be helpful in understanding the interaction of human and natural processes and impacts. Explicit recognition of the need to include natural conditions in the indicator system is essential in the transition from environmental reporting to sustainability reporting.


Human Action Natural Condition Environmental Change Natural Process Environmental Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berger, A.R. and W.J. Iams (eds.): 1996, Geoindicators: Assessing Rapid Environmental Changes in Earth Systems (A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam), 466 p.Google Scholar
  2. Comolet, A.: 1992, ‘How OECD countries respond to state-of-the-environment reports’ International Environmental Affairs: Journal for Research and Policy 4.1: pp. 3–17.Google Scholar
  3. CSD: 1995, Programme of Work on Indicators for Sustainable Development (UN Economic and Social Council Document E/CN.17/1995/18).Google Scholar
  4. Freedman, B., C. Staicer and S. Woodley: 1995, ‘Ecological monitoring and research in greater ecological reserves: a conceptual framework’ In T.B. Herman, S. Bondrup-Nielsen, J.H.M. Willison and N.W.P. Munro (eds.), Ecosystem Monitoring and Protected Areas. (Science and Management of Protected Areas, Wolfville, Nova Scotia Association), 590 p.Google Scholar
  5. Friend, A.M. and D.J. Rapport: 1989, Environmental Information Systems for Sustainable Development. Proceedings of 7th Annual Meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment, Montreal. 24–28 June, 1989 (Institute for Research on Environment and Economy, University of Ottawa, Ottawa).Google Scholar
  6. Hodge, R.A.: 1991, Towards a Yukon SOE Reporting Framework. Sustainable Development Committee, Yukon Council on Economy and Environment and the Department of Renewable Resources (Government of the Yukon, Whitehorse).Google Scholar
  7. Hodge, R.A.: 1993, Reporting on Sustainable and Equitable Development. Project Paper no. 1, Conceptual Approach (Corporate Affairs and Initiatives Division, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa).Google Scholar
  8. Hodge, R.A.: 1995a, Assessing Progress Toward Sustainability: Development of a Systemic Framework and Reporting Structure, Ph.D. (interdisciplinary) Dissertation. School of Urban Planning, Faculty of Engineering (Montreal, McGill University).Google Scholar
  9. Hodge, R.A.: 1995b, Assessing Progress Toward Sustainability. Appendix A in The Role of ENGOs in North America (The North American Institute, Santa Fe).Google Scholar
  10. Hodge, R.A.: 1997, ‘Toward a conceptual framework for assessing progress toward sustainability’ Social Indicators Research.Google Scholar
  11. Holling, C.S.: 1986, ‘The resilience of terrestrial ecosystems: local surprise and global change’ in W.C. Clark and R.E. Munn (eds.), Sustainable Development of the Biosphere (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), pp. 292–316.Google Scholar
  12. Janis, I.L.: 1954, ‘Problems of theory in the analysis of stress behavior’ Journal of Social Issues X, pp. 12–25.Google Scholar
  13. Kasperson, R.E.: 1969, ‘Environmental stress and the municipal political system’ in R.E. Kasperson and J.V. Minghi (eds.), The Structure of Political Geography (Aldine Publishers, Chicago), pp. 481–500.Google Scholar
  14. Noss, R.G.: 1990, ‘Indicators for monitoring biodiversity: a hierarchical approach’ Conservation Biology 4, pp. 355–364.Google Scholar
  15. NRTEE: 1993, Toward reporting progress on sustainable development in Canada: report to the Prime Minister (National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Ottawa).Google Scholar
  16. Pearce, D.W. and S. Freeman: 1992, Information requirements of policy decision-makers. Proceedings of the Environmental Information Forum, Montreal, Canada, 21–24 May, 1991 (State of Environment Reporting, Environment Canada. Minister of Supply and Services Canada: Ottawa), pp. 56-101.Google Scholar
  17. Rapport, D. and A. Friend: 1979, Towards a comprehensive framework for environmental statistics: a stress-response approach. Statistics Canada Catalogue 11–510 (Minister of Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa).Google Scholar
  18. Saskatchewan: 1992, Saskatchewan's state of the environment report: The need for environmental indicators 1992. Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management.Google Scholar
  19. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and DPCSD (United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development): 1995, ‘The role of indicators in decision-making’ in N. Gouzee, B. Mazijn, and S. Billharz (eds.), Indicators of sustainable development for decision-making. Report of the Workshop of Ghent, Belgium, 9–11 January 1995 (Bureau fédéral du Plan, Bruxelles).Google Scholar
  20. Wolpert, J.: 1966, ‘Migration as an adjustment to environmental stress’ Journal of Social Issues XXII, p. 93.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Berger
    • 1
  • R. A. Hodge
    • 1
  1. 1.VictoriaBritish Columbia

Personalised recommendations