John Wilson; Richard Primack

Published On


Page Range

pp. 327-376

Print Length

49 pages

10. Conserving Ecosystems

Ecosystem conservation and management involves three different activities: (1) monitoring ecosystem components, (2) maintaining healthy ecosystems, and (3) restoring damaged ecosystems. An ecosystem in which all the chemical, physical, and biological components and processes are functioning normally is considered healthy. Those that remain healthy through disturbance are resistant, while ecosystems that rapidly recover after disturbance are resilient. Ecosystems can be monitored using direct observation, environmental or biochemical indicators, and remote sensing analysis. It is important that any monitoring method be consistent and repeatable across space and time. To maintain ecosystems that can support diverse ecological communities, conservationists are guided by three complementary management principles: (1) maintain critical ecosystem processes (water cycling, nutrient cycling, energy flow, community dynamics), (2) minimise external threats, and (3) be adaptive yet minimally intrusive. Ecological restoration, which is the practice of restoring damaged ecosystems to an agreed-upon benchmark, can be accomplished via rehabilitation, partial restoration, complete restoration, or taking no action. The strategy followed will depend on each project’s goals and resource availability.