Ecological theory and values in the determination of conservation goals: examples from temperate regions of Germany, United States of America, and Chile Page: 360
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
JAX & ROZZI
considerably. In addition, these concepts have
changed during the following decades and they
still have different meanings for different
groups of people. Particularly difficult
questions related directly to value decisions
arise today with respect to alien plants and
animals (invasive species) entering an area and
spreading there. Should they be considered as
Ecological theory is a third important and
often neglected ingredient in the determination
of conservation goals, which can serve two main
purposes. First, ecological theory allows us to go
beyond a purely static description of an area, by
providing insights into the interactions between
the elements of ecological systems, their
dynamics, and the ways they might respond to
external changes. Ideally, ecological theory
should provide the means for predicting the
development of ecological systems.
A second, much less considered role of
ecological theory is its heuristic use in the
formulation of research questions and
conservation goals (Jax 2003). Ecological
theory can help identify gaps in our knowledge
and expose uncertainties. Even more important
within conservation, ecology can help clarify
our questions, forcing us to be more precise
about the concepts we use. Although this
remains a difficult task, ecological theory can
also help distinguish between values and facts
and promote their integration in the definition
of conservation goals. We illustrate this point
using one of the currently most discussed
approaches to conservation, the strategy of
PRESERVING ECOSYSTEMS: THE SOLUTION TO
CURRENT CONSERVATION DILEMMAS?
Ecosystem management represents an
increasingly popular strategy, which is
compatible with a dynamic view of nature
(Christensen et al. 1996). It recognizes
ecosystems as permanently changing and, at the
same time, promotes a multiple use
The management of whole ecosystems -in
contrast to that of single "commodities"- seems
to be an elegant solution to many conservation
problems. By protecting the whole ecosystem,
we avoid protecting only certain parts of an
area at the cost of others. This approach, to our
knowledge, was first applied systematically in
Yellowstone National Park, starting in the late
1960s (Jax 2001, 2002b). During the 1990s the
notion of ecosystem management experienced a
rapid rise in North American environmental
policy (Grumbine 1994, Christensen et al.
1996, Boyce & Haney 1997, Jax 2002b).
In contrast to its beginnings, in which
ecosystem management was mainly a particular
way of dealing with complex natural settings,
the notion has now been extended to an
ambitious societal program (Jax 2002b).
Although the ecosystem approach in the United
States means very different things to different
people (Yaffee 1999), some common ground is
emerging. The ecosystem is used here as a
cipher for the treatment of "the whole", a whole
that also includes humans, their societies and
resource use practices. Moreover, it emphasizes,
interagency management and a focus on natural
boundaries in contrast to administrative ones
(Grumbine 1994, Carpenter 1995, Szaro et al.
1998). In this context, the ecosystem and
ecosystem management concepts are becoming
strongly value-laden, departing from the
perspective of "value-neutral" science.
It is this ecosystem approach which is
applied by the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD). The Fifth Conference of the
Parties of this convention, which took place in
Nairobi in 2000, passed a resolution that
recommended the "ecosystem approach" as a
cross-cutting issue for the CBD and obliged all
parties to implement this approach within their
conservation policies (resolution COP V/6).
Based on the so-called Malawi-Principles, the
approach emphasizes the social dimensions of
management and that societal choices have to
be made. It also acknowledges the changing
nature of ecological systems (Botkin 1990,
Pickett & Ostfeld 1995, Plachter 1996).
The ecosystem approach is considered a
major tool for implementing the three basic
goals of the CBD, namely biological
conservation, sustainable use of natural
resources, and equitable sharing of benefits
(Smith & Maltby 2001). However, the
implementation of such an approach is far from
simple. First of all, it is an illusion that we
would really be able to grasp the whole. This is
an epistemological problem (Pickett et al. 1994,
Rozzi et al. 1998). To investigate anything in
nature, we have to select and isolate a particular
characteristic of interest, from which we
mentally form the system which we then
describe and analyze. This has direct
consequences for the scientific perception of the
ecosystem as the very object of the ecosystem
approach. In spite of some "naive-realistic"
attitudes, an ecosystem is not a natural entity
that can be identified in nature without reference
to particular interests and selection criteria (Jax
Here’s what’s next.
This article can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Article.
Jax, Kurt, 1958- & Rozzi, Ricardo, 1960-. Ecological theory and values in the determination of conservation goals: examples from temperate regions of Germany, United States of America, and Chile, article, 2004; [Santiago, Chile]. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc102284/m1/12/: accessed March 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.