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Until recently, natural resource management of such commodities as timber and wildlife was driven largely by the desire to exploit these resources. During the past three decades, however, ecologists have warned that this approach to natural resource management could have unforeseen consequences because it ignored how ecosystems function within the landscape. Federal agencies that oversee forest and wildlife resources have begun to implement different schemes of ecosystem management, schemes that vary enormously among agencies. Contributors to this volume -- leading experts who are agency personnel as well as researchers -- now clarify the key elements of sound ecosystem management and offer prescriptions for implementing them.
The authors discuss definitions of ecosystem management, sustainability of ecological systems, landscape ecology, resource management at different scales and in an ecosystem context, new advances in computer technology that facilitate classification schemes for ecosystems, ecosystem restoration, biological diversity, and public concerns. Throughout, the experts agree that management practices must be sustainable: that production of commodities, such amenities as recreation and aesthetics, and biodiversity must not be allowed to decline over time.