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ecosystem approach

What is an Ecosystem Approach?

The ecosystem approach is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organisation which encompass the essential processes and their interactions amongst organisms and their environment. The ecosystem approach recognises that humans are an integral component of ecosystems.

Ecosystem Approach Principles

The following 12 principles are complementary and interlinked

The ecosystem approach

1. The objectives of management of land, water and living resources are a matter of societal choice

2. Management should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level

3. Ecosystem managers should consider the effects (actual or potential) of their activities on adjacent and other ecosystems.

4. Recognising potential gains from management, there is usually a need to understand and manage the ecosystem in an economic context. Any such ecosystem-management programme should:

(a) Reduce those market distortions that adversely affect biological diversity;

(b) Align incentives to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;

(c) Internalise costs and benefits in the given ecosystem to the extent feasible.

5. Conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning, in order to maintain ecosystem services, should be a priority target of the ecosystem approach.

6. Ecosystems must be managed within the limits of their functioning [natural limits].

7. The ecosystem approach should be undertaken at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales.

8. Recognising the varying temporal scales and lag-effects that characterise ecosystem processes, objectives for ecosystem management should be set for the long term.

9. Management must recognise that change is inevitable.

10. The ecosystem approach should seek the appropriate balance between, and integration of, conservation and use of biological diversity.

11. The ecosystem approach should consider all forms of relevant information, including scientific and indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices.

12. The ecosystem approach should involve all relevant sectors of society and scientific disciplines.

The Ecosystem Approach is a delivery tool of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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