Using the Past to Inform a Sustainable Future: Palaeoecological Insights from East Africa

  • Esther GithumbiEmail author
  • Rob Marchant
  • Daniel Olago
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


An important aspect of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aims to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 °C by 2050, has been the development of monitoring and evaluation plans that integrate climate change perspectives into new policies and programs for the protection and functioning of ecological systems. These include measures that enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. Ecosystem change and the interaction of the different drivers of change in ecosystems have been studied at different temporal and spatial scales across different disciplines. However, the use of long temporal records documenting environmental and climatic change in understanding the impacts of the interacting drivers of change and planning sustainable use of resources is relatively new. We present examples of the use of palaeoecological data from East Africa in planning for the long-term sustainable use of natural resources by providing long-term historical perspectives on human–environment–societal–wildlife interactions and engagement with the biocultural heritage and societal evaluations of these spaces to achieve an increasingly diverse set of conservation, social and economic objectives. We link the Earth system processes whose associated boundaries can be directly related to sustainable development goals in our attempt to prevent unacceptable environmental change. The realisation that humans are having a significant impact on climate and landscapes means we now need to showcase the societal relevance of palaeoecological research and utilise its output especially in our efforts to remain within a safe operating space for humanity and ecosystems.


Environmental history Pollen Remote sensing Savannah Swamps 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Linnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden
  3. 3.University of NairobiNairobiKenya

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