Social vulnerability and environmental change along urban-rural interfaces
As the world becomes increasingly urbanized and interconnected, the distinction between urban and rural areas is diminishing. Creation of new urban–rural interface areas causes immediate changes in local natural and social environments, and these
areas are also susceptible to both short-term and long-term environmental changes. Different groups of people have varying levels of exposure to natural hazards and gradual climatic changes, as well as access to different coping and resiliency strategies that create unique sets of assets and vulnerabilities. Social vulnerability to hazards and environmental changes results from a complex mix of environmental, social, and economic factors and is often rooted in poverty and disenfranchisement. Mapping of projected environmental threats and census-based indicators of social vulnerability can signal areas that require more intensive ethnographic research, which can elucidate elements of social vulnerability and adaptive capacity that are difficult or impossible to understand from census data or to measure through surveys. Collaborative management of especially vulnerable urban–rural interface areas can present opportunities to enhance the coping strategies and adaptive capacity of individuals and communities, leading to outcomes that are more ecologically sustainable and socially just.