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A social-ecological trap describes a situation where social and ecological feedbacks mutually reinforce each other and maintain or push a social-ecological system towards an undesirable state. Social-ecological traps are hard to escape.Piecemeal, incremental change will not be sufficient to break out of such traps.
Social-ecological traps are related to but differ from poverty and rigidity traps that have primarily been described as a social phenomenon detached from ecosystems and how their dynamics feed into, are shaped by and affect social processes (but see Carpenter and Brock 2008).
1. Poverty can create social-ecological traps.
2. Social-ecological traps can be driven by economic opportunities and aggravated by masking effects.
3. Identifying key actor groups can be critical to understand social-ecological traps.
4. Lag-effects can reinforce social-ecological traps.
5. Ecosystem illiteracy and strong identity can push people into social-ecological traps.