Ecosystem based management

The ecosystem-based management approach

Achieving sustainability in our economy, communities, and natural environment requires rethinking traditional approaches that are no longer effective in managing complex and interrelated problems. The fragmented and narrow approaches of the past are giving way to more integrated and comprehensive strategies. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has adopted the strategy of Ecosystem-based Management to build cooperative, long-term alliances with the public in order to attain sustainability. Sustainability means enhancing community well-being and economic opportunity by protecting and restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies depend.

Ecosystem-based approaches evolved nationally to meet increasing and often conflicting demands on the nation's natural resource base. The approach provides new ways to address emergent environmental problems that have stymied traditional approaches. These problems include nonpoint source pollution, toxic contamination of biota, habitat alteration and destruction, and overall loss of biological diversity.

The Minnesota DNR defines Ecosystem-based Management as the collaborative process of sustaining the integrity of ecosystems through partnerships and interdisciplinary teamwork. The long-term goal is sustainability of Minnesota's ecosystems, the people who live in them, and the economies founded on them.

Ecosystem-based management relies on the following key principles:

  • Partnerships and citizen participation. Work together with citizens, landowners, businesses, local governments, interest organizations, and other agencies to face problems, identify opportunities and find common solutions.
  • Science-based approach. Use the best available scientific knowledge (social, economic, and ecological) as a foundation for decision-making; understand natural resource interrelationships, and focus on sustainability of whole ecological systems.
  • Long-term view. Establish long-term goals for desired ecosystem conditions that maintain the capacity of the land to sustain public benefits and opportunities into the future.
  • Comprehensive perspective. Find solutions that support economic prosperity, lasting livelihoods, and ecological health.