An Ecological Economics Approach
Edited by R. Kerry Turner, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Roy Brouwer
Chapter 3: Environmental Indicators and Sustainable Wetland Management
R. Brouwer, S. Crooks and R.K. Turner 1 INTRODUCTION The main objective of this chapter is to synthesize in a coherent way the wetland indicators found in the literature which aim to inform policy and decision-making concerned with sustainable natural resource management. The concept of ecosystem integrity will be used as the organizing principle behind the indicator framework. The concept of ecosystem integrity has recently gained in popularity and has been defined as the maintenance of system components, interactions among them and the resultant behaviour or dynamic of the system (King, 1993).1 In the literature, other sustainability concepts have been proposed as well, such as ecosystem health (Costanza et al., 1992) or ecosystem resilience (Holling, 1986). The former has been defined as a system free of distress syndrome, while the latter refers to a system’s ability to maintain its structure and pattern of behaviour in the presence of stress. Ecosystem integrity resembles the above mentioned concepts in that they all refer to, implicitly or explicitly, a certain minimum structural system composition required for the overall functioning of ecosystems. A lot of the subsequent debate about the usefulness of these different concepts has been dominated by semantics. For our purposes, the most important characteristic of all of these concepts for incorporation in the indicator framework is that they adopt a systems approach to the analysis of complex natural resources such as wetlands. The land–water interactions found in wetlands and their openness necessitate a management approach, which accounts for these...
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