Ecosystem management: A practitioners' guide


  • Susan Leech
  • Alan Wiensczyk
  • Jennifer Turner



adaptive management, collaboration, ecosystem-based management, ecosystem management, natural resource management, sustainable forest management


Ecosystem management represents an evolving philosophical approach to managing natural resources. Rather than managing multiple resources independently, an ecosystem-based approach focuses on the collective management of all resources - maintaining ecological integrity while allowing resource extraction. This approach seeks to ensure the co-existence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities and development. In this extension note, we outline the basics of ecosystem management, highlighting a number of key concepts related to this shift. In particular, we discuss the wide range of ecosystem management definitions and provide a summary diagram. This diagram helps to position the many interpretations of ecosystem management along a continuum that ranges from environmentally sensitive multiple use to ecoregional management. Using available case studies as a basis for drawing conclusions, we also explore the significant changes needed to address existing institutional, policy, science-based, and management barriers to the implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to natural resource management. Finally, we offer a list of web-based resources on ecosystem-based management. Together with a companion paper, this extension note provides useful information to natural resource managers considering ecosystem management as an approach and to policy-makers interested in enabling this approach in British Columbia.