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The HERO vision revisited
This book started with the premise that to develop sustainable communities on a sustainable planet, an infrastructure should exist that enables scientists to monitor local human–environment interactions, to share and compare data, analyses, and ideas with scientists at other locales, and to participate with colleagues and stakeholders in a global network dedicated to community-level sustainability.
The book recounted the Human–Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) project's attempt to take first steps in developing such an infrastructure and the concepts and research behind that infrastructure. As such, the project did not produce – and never intended to produce – definitive research results about, for example, vulnerability or the causes and consequences of land-use and land-cover change. Consequently, this book has concentrated on conceptualizing the elements needed to make human–environment infrastructure work, and on exploring those elements by proof-of-concept testing.
This chapter summarizes HERO's efforts (and therefore the book) by revisiting a set of questions posed in Chapter 1. The most important part of the chapter is the discussion of lessons learned during the HERO team's attempts to answer those questions. The chapter concludes by trying to support the project's (and book's) claim that there is a need for HEROs.
Answers to and lessons learned from HERO's guiding questions
Chapter 1 reported two fundamental questions that were central to the HERO effort. One overarching question guided the research and addressed infrastructure development via three less-encompassing questions (Table 15.1).