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Michael Soule1
Both conselVation biology and the natural resource disciplines
are normative, and both are cOl!Cerned with the conselVation of
biological diversity, but there are differences in their fundamental
values. ConselVation biologists are generally more concerned
with protecting the entire range of biotic diversity, whereas
natural resource professionals are committed to providing
resources, including commodities. These different missions are
not always reconcilable, notWithstanding attempts to define
"sustainability" and the "ecosystem approach" in ways that
imply that human needs and biodiversity can be hannonized
One of the reasons for the current popularity of "ecosystems
management" among politicians is that it is proactive. But
another reason is that its objectives are vague and not usually
tied to conflict-generating endangered species. One explanation
for the vagueness is that there are at least five, distinct,
defmitions of ecosystem management: (l) description and
classification of plant/animal associations, (2) providing
ecosystem selVices, (3) maintaining ecosystem integrity, (4)
ensuring the continuation of ecosystem processes and natural
disturbance regimes, and (5) balancing human needs and
conselVation, per se. A critical analysis will show that none of
these approaches to ecosystem management, alone, is realistic
unless it is based on the management of single species. With
the exception of prescriptive burning, most management
intelVentions are based on the ecological requirements of single
species. Constant repetition of the mantras of "sustainability"
and "holistic ecosystem approach" will not, alone, lead to a
truly synthetic, ecological approach to management. In fact,
management will always be site specific, and based on single
species. The current fashion of species bashing is anti-scientific
and provincial, especially in view of the environmental
conditions in many tropical nations and the high probability that
many large animals will not persist in nature in large regions of
the world during the coming "demographic winter."
1 Board of Environmental Studies, University of Califomia, Santa
Cruz, USA.