If our society believes that Earth is borrowed from our children rather than inherited from our ancestors, we will use ecosystem-based conservation planning to protect, maintain, and restore ecological integrity and biological diversity, and to develop diverse, ecologically sustainable human communities and their economies.
Ecosystem-based conservation plans (EBCPs) are necessary in order to protect and maintain ecological integrity and biological diversity at all spatial scales, from small land and water ecosystems to large landscapes. EBCPs cover ecological time frames of hundreds of years and beyond—plans that generations of people live through and change as our understanding of ecosystems improves.
Human cultures and their economies depend on intact, natural ecosystems and their biological diversity, in other words, on natural capital. Planning human activities that protect, maintain, and, where necessary, restore ecosystem integrity and biodiversity is the basis for developing enduring, sustainable human economies and cultures. Such activities are ecologically responsible, because they ensure that ecosystem components and processes continue to support the full range of life.
Ecosystem-based conservation planning is a system that may be effectively applied in unmodified to highly modified landscapes; and may be used for a wide range of purposes from conservation area design to resource development, settlement design, and urban planning.
SFF has developed its approach to ecosystem-based conservation planning over 25 years of working with rural and First Nations communities. We owe a debt of thanks to many Elders and to other wise people who have generously assisted us in developing the philosophy, principles, and practice of EBCP.
EBCP focuses first on what to protect or what to leave, and then on what to use or what to take. Ecosystem-based conservation planning does not start with a target for production ― be it cubic meters of timber, person days of recreation, or tons of salmon ― but instead seeks to understand the ecology of an area, and then to define how various human activities and economies can fit within the ecological limits of the ecosystem. EBCPs provide for protection of ecosystem functioning and balanced human and non-human use of ecosystems―ecological sustainability.
Ecosystem-based conservation planning is about applying a different way of thinking―a different value system to our relationship with the ecosystems that sustain us. We need to see ourselves as part of and dependent upon healthy natural ecosystems. The prefix “eco” of ecosystem comes from the Greek “oikos,” which means home. Thus, ecosystem means home system. Join SFF in giving Earth the care and respect she deserves.
You can learn more about EBCP in Definition and Principles, Process, Project Summaries, Community and Appreciative Inquiry, and GIS and Mapping.