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Title: Advances in Conservation Ecology : Paradigm Shifts of Consequence for USACE Environmental Planning, Management and Conservation Cooperation
Authors: Cole, Richard A.
Keywords: Restoration ecology
Stream restoration
Riparian restoration
Environmental aspects
Environmental management
Publisher: U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources.
Abstract: Recent advances in conservation ecology are changing the way federal agencies in the United States plan, manage and cooperate to achieve their missions. These advances have contributed to major changes in the widely accepted working concepts—or paradigms—that underlie widely held assumptions of ecological management. Many of these paradigm shifts occurred since Corps environmental policy and technical guidance was written and are unevenly understood among ecological managers (eco-managers). The historic highlights of these changes and some of their implications are presented here for the use of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program (Corps) as it adapts to climate and other environmental change. One of the most challenging aspects of Corps and other agency adaptation to new environmental legislation was protecting species and their support systems from increasing rates of extinction and restoring them to sustainable states as the environment was rapidly changing. The management demands and conflicts often seemed overwhelming, even before global climate change was widely accepted as real. The concept of ecosystem management emerged in the 1990s as an attractive alternative to species-based management, but, in its earlier incarnations in the 1990s, ecosystem management tended to rely on assumptions of long-term ecological stability and integrity that are now largely dismissed as unrealistic by ecologists and leading eco-managers in large part because of increasing awareness of past and potential climate-change effects. Other ecological paradigms were already shifting, but have shifted more quickly since global climate change has been widely accepted as real. While many eco-managers in the 1990s continued to accept a tightly organized, deterministically resilient concept of community integrity, most now believe that many species redistribute individualistically and often uncertainly in continuously changing community assemblages. Yet leading eco-managers continue to believe that many of the threatened species elements of ecosystems can be protected at and restored to more naturally sustainable abundances somewhere on the continent, if not in previous, “more natural” ecosystem assemblages and locations. Once thought to be separate from nature, ecologists and many eco-managers now generally accept human effects as pervasive and often inseparable attributes of nature (although some environmental advocates find the separation politically useful). Leading eco-managers now argue that most, if not all, ecosystems are humanly-altered and quite resistant to holistic protection and restoration of past ecosystem conditions. The old paradigms allowed a locally independent and deterministic certainty in management that has been replaced with wide acceptance of the need for forward looking, objective-guided and cooperative adaptive management. Most tenets of contemporary ecosystem management concept are generally accepted; particularly, the importance of sustaining biodiversity, defining management objectives in terms of ecosystem services, and considering species population needs and management at a wide range of ecological scales. But ecosystem management is accepted mainly in support of population-based management. Corps practitioners can do much to accommodate these changes, including possible revisions of policy and new technical guidance.
Description: IWR Report
Rights: Approved for Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited
Size: 197 pages / 3.97 MB
Types of Materials: PDF
Appears in Collections:IWR Reports

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