Lackey, Robert T. 1998. Ecosystem management: In search of the elusive paradigm. Human Ecology Review 4(2):107-113.
Ecosystem management is proposed as the modern way of managing natural resources and ecosystems. Championed as an approach that will protect the environment, maintain healthy ecosystems, preserve biological diversity, and ensure sustainable development, ecosystem management also has been derided as a new label for old ideas. The definitions of ecosystem management are vague. Here I offer seven core principles, or pillars, of ecosystem management to delimit the concept. As with all management paradigms, there is no "right" decision, but rather those decisions that best respond to society's needs. For selecting the most important research needs, the most important criteria are policy relevance and scientific tractability--research that addresses important management or policy problems and is likely to be scientifically achievable. Ecosystem management would be enhanced by developing (1) credible procedures to determine ecosystem health, which is within the domain of social and biological science; (2) scientifically sound options on which to base policy decisions about biological diversity and endangered species; and (3) a clear understanding of the relationship between ecosystem stability and biological diversity, and how each responds to external stress such as altering habitat and harvesting biotic resources. While many other research priorities also are important, the three identified needs meet the specified criteria and are likely to improve implementation of ecosystem management.