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Free Content Recognising the Complexities of Ecosystem Management and the Ecosystem Service Concept

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Ecosystem management emphasises ecosystem service concepts in order to improve land management and to justify nature conservation. This approach rests on the assumption that conserving ecosystem services can deliver net benefits for human welfare in terms of economic development. To retain credibility, the advocates of ecosystem service concepts must acknowledge the constraints that may limit the reliability of this assumption, including trade-offs with other land-use benefits. The fact that ecosystem service concepts have not been well integrated into management implies that such initiatives have not been persuasive among land managers and agriculturalists. I argue that this is due to the combination of a failure by scientists, conservationists, and other advocates of the ecosystem management approach to account for the trade-offs and opportunity costs inherent in land management, and a lack of willingness to accept that managing for ecosystem services may place constraints on future management options. However, the ecosystem service concept has the opportunity to make substantial contributions toward more effective management by influencing thinking among policy makers, land managers, and the wider public.

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Keywords: ALMONDS; CONSERVATION; CROP PRODUCTION; DECISION MAKING; ECOSYSTEM SERVICES; ETHICS; INTEGRATED CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS; OPPORTUNITY COSTS; POLLINATION; TRADE-OFFS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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