Ecosystem management as a wicked problem

DeFries, Ruth and Nagendra, Harini (2017) Ecosystem management as a wicked problem. Science, 356 (6335). pp. 265-270. ISSN 0036-8075

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Ecosystems are self-regulating systems that provide societies with food,water, timber, and other resources. As demands for resources increase, management decisions are replacing self-regulating properties. Counter to previous technical approaches that applied simple formulas to estimate sustainable yields of single species, current research recognizes the inherent complexity of ecosystems and the inability to foresee all consequences of interventions across different spatial, temporal, and administrative scales. Ecosystem management is thus more realistically seen as a “wicked problem” that has no clear-cut solution. Approaches for addressing such problems include multisector decision-making, institutions that enable management to span across administrative boundaries, adaptive management, markets that incorporate natural capital, and collaborative processes to engage diverse stakeholders and address inequalities. Ecosystem management must avoid two traps: falsely assuming a tame solution and inaction from overwhelming complexity. An incremental approach can help to avoid these traps.

Item Type: Article
Authors: DeFries, Ruth and Nagendra, Harini
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ecology, Ecosystem, Environment,
Subjects: Natural Sciences > Life sciences; biology > Ecology
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Restricted
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