Lackey, Robert T. 1998. Ecosystem management: desperately seeking a paradigm. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 53(2):92-94.
Two competing views of ecosystem management have emerged. One is that ecosystem management is another stage in the continual evolution of the basic management paradigm -- one that natural resource managers have followed in North America for a century. The other view is that ecosystem management reflects a shift to a different paradigm, one based on an alternative world view. The concept that stimulates such intense reactions and polarity has controversial tenets at its core, but it is not clear from much of the published debate what these tenets are. Stated or not, there are profound differences of opinion, but these differences are often difficult to separate from arguments over technical and operational details. The divisive issues in ecosystem management are not technical, scientific, or operational, but are moral and philosophical. There will continue to be ambiguity about what is meant when ecosystem management is discussed and debated, but the important differences are over values, priorities and assumptions. My guess is that ecosystem management will be embraced by the bureaucracy as a policy marketing concept, but will be operationally defined separately as another step in the evolution of ecological policy. It will not be revolutionary in practice, rhetoric aside.