Zoology 401: Principles of Wildlife Management: Environmental Ethics In Wildlife Management. In a lecture at Otago University, Chris Perley argues for moving towards ecosystem-based management paradigms that emphasise ecosystem health as the paramount objective while providing for people in communities. He promotes a positive vision about investment in natural resources.

Zoology 401: Principles of Wildlife Management


Environmental Ethics In Wildlife Management   August 2000


Chris Perley

1. Introduction – What is Ethics?

Ethics is concerned with one question: How ought we to act? In environmental ethics that question is applied within a context: How ought we to act toward the environment?


2. Why Bother with Ethics?

When undertaking environmental management, managers are not just applying the science of ecology. They are also working within a set of ideas about the environment, and what is "appropriate", or "right". This is the ethical dimension to any environmental management.

There are many different perspectives on what represents "right". It is important to understand some of these views, in order that both dialogue can be maintained (i.e. people do not talk past each other – each arguing that they represent "environmental protection") and that environmental protection goals can be achieved within a social context (i.e. political and economic support).


3. Ethical Questions

Answering – or attempting to answer – the question of environmental ethics (How ought we to act toward the environment?) a number of further questions are raised.

  1. Do we have obligations direct to ecosystems? And if so at what level – individuals; species; existing ecological structures; ecological functions?

  2. Do we have obligations to future human generations?

    In relation to these questions, is the answer an either/or, a both, or a neither? Each answer represents an "ethical" position, laden with a particular set of values – from the wholly selfish "maximise utility to self" extreme to the other extreme which is wholly ecocentric (or biocentric), where humanity may be considered to have no value.

    Usual environmentalist objective is inferred to be a "sustainable future" for both ecosystems and future human generations. But these ends are not necessarily agreed to by all.

  3. What is "sustainability"?

  4. What is ecological health? What is ecological harm?

  5. What do we value enough to consider in our decision making? Is value only anthropocentric? That is – are humans the only moral agents – and the environment a moral patient? Are there intrinsic values in the environment independent of a human valuer (i.e. is there some aspect of the environment that is a moral agent that can ascribe "value")?

    Many of these questions boil down to the following key questions:

    • Does human use necessarily harm environmental values?
    • Does no-use (preservation reserves) necessarily protect environmental values?

    These in turn rely upon certain key perceptions relating to the following:

    • Is humanity a part of, or apart from, the environment?, and
    • What are the defining characteristics of ecology?

    With regard to how we ought to act toward the environment perhaps two of the most important questions relation to environmental strategy:

    • Is the dichotomy of allocating land into commercial and preservation reserves proving a success
    • Is there an alternative that is a synthesis between these two views?

The breadth of these questions indicates that many ethical questions relate to a much wider environmental philosophy. We may not be able to answer these questions below, but we can provide some perspective on the issues involved.


4. Resource Management Paradigms
  1. Mining (nature as commodity, humans apart from nature, extreme hubris)

    Single objective of either maximising profit or land use change. Timber harvest rates at above sustainable yield levels. Funds not invested back into the forest system – invested in next mining operation. Ecological health not an issue.

  2. "Sustainable" cropping (nature as commodity, humans apart from nature, hubris)

    Single objective on (usually) sustainable timber yield. Social and environmental constraints, other than sustainable yield, are imposed by regulation/legislation. Timber harvested at assumed sustainable yield levels. Any intrinsic benefits to environment are incidental to management objective. "Health" is related to forest's and trees' wood production.

  3. Multiple Use and Sustainable Yield (nature as commodity – though softened – less hubris)

    Mixed environmental, social and economic objectives – respective priorities depending upon particular circumstances. Management for usually utilitarian values – timber as well as soil and water, aesthetics, recreation. Timber harvested at or below sustainable yield levels to cater for other utilitarian values. Intrinsic environmental benefits are usually incidental, though not inconsiderable. "Health" is measured in utilitarian terms – e.g. aesthetics, wood productivity or individual tree health.

  4. Ecosystem Management (humans a part of nature – with people as much "owned" as "owners", humility)

    Primary objective of protecting ecosystem health/integrity. Management for 1. Intrinsic forest values – ecological diversity and function – and 2. Wider range of utilitarian values, including timber. Timber management is within ecological disturbance patterns to protect intrinsic values.. Timber harvest set at below sustainable yield levels as constrained by intrinsic values. Large proportion of funds invested back into the forest system, including its ecological health.

  5. Preservation/Reserves (nature apart from human needs, other than observation, humility)

    Single objective of protecting ecosystem health/integrity. Management for 1. Intrinsic forest values – ecological diversity and function – and 2. Non-wood utilitarian values – soil and water, aesthetics, recreation, etc. No forest wood product use. Requires external financing to maintain ecological health.

5. Aldo Leopold

Forester, Wildlife Management Professor, Environmental philosopher

Saw forestry management and wildlife management as very related.

Went from a utilitarian perspective on the environment (where forests produce crops "instrumental" to human need) to what we would now call an ecosystem management perspective on the environment (which accounts for local community as well as all the ecological values – including the intrinsic values). He was also very active in establishing Wilderness area – especially in the South East US.

Author of A Sand County Almanac 1949. What many consider the start of environmental ethics. Either introduced or developed the ideas of ecological health, a land ethic, intrinsic value.

Think like a mountain

Recognised that instrumental values alone were insufficient to ensure a sustainable management of resources. This was at a time when wolves and other "pests" were referred to as vermin. The "good" things were deer, or timber, or grass for cattle feed. The "bad" things were anything that impacted upon them – and through them impacted on humans.

He tried to see things from the perspective of a mountain.

The Land Ethic

Argued that one day humans would have to treat the environment as part of their "community of concern" – just as over the ages our ethics had developed to the stage where it was no longer acceptable to treat people, sexes or races as "property" where "owned". Nor acceptable to judge any part of the environment based on its economic value (such as a slow growing tree species with perhaps poorer returns for timber – or a species that may have less appeal from a wildlife perspective).

This concept of being a part of the environment is very close to many indigenous peoples' perspectives.

The Land Pyramid

"Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals. Food chains are the living channels which conduct energy upwards; death and decay return it to the soil. The circuit is not closed …… but it is a sustainable circuit, like a slowly augmented revolving fund of life" (p 216).

Implications for ecological health.

Health and the A-B Cleavage

"Health is the capacity of land for self-renewal" (p 221)

Emphasises the different perspectives on environmental management – from the "cabbage – forester" to the forester who manages a natural environment rather than creating an artificial one.

READ from page 221.

6. Concepts – Ecology

Is an ecosystem better defined by its structure or by its functions? What temporal and spatial scales are relevant?

Common pop-ecology view is that nature is static and structural, rather than dynamic and functional.

Norton (1991, quoted in Haskell et al 1992) has analysed natural functions further and suggested five axioms of 'the nature of nature', which provide a framework for defining ecological health, including the:
  • Axiom of Dynamism: nature is more profoundly a set of processes than a set of objects; all is in flux.
  • Axiom of Relatedness: all processes are related to all other processes.
  • Axiom of Hierarchy: processes are not related equally, but unfold in systems within systems, which differ mainly regarding the temporal and spatial scale on which they are organised.
  • Axiom of Creativity: the processes of nature are creative and represent the basis for all biologically based productivity. The vehicle for that creativity is energy flowing through systems.
  • Axiom of Differential Fragility: ecological systems, which form the context of all human activities, vary in the extent to which they can absorb and equilibrate human-caused disruptions in their creative processes.

This concept of nature as a complex, dynamic, interconnected system, from which our own species cannot divorce itself, is absolutely vital to understanding and interpreting any management of natural resources


7. Concepts of Ecosystem Health

Constanza (1992) went into more detail than either Kolb et al or Jenkins. In leading toward a workable definition, he examined six human perspectives on ecosystem health ranging from:
  • health as absence of disease (the utilitarian human medical analogy);
  • health as homeostasis (no change is good, which is fine for homeostatic organisms, but not for non-homeostatic systems like ecosystems);
  • health as stability or resistance (the ability to recover from stress, but this lacks a vitality or organisational dimension);
  • health as diversity or complexity (based on the theory that diversity is a predictor of stability or resistance, and that these are measures of health);
  • health as vigour or scope for growth (recovery from stress is related to overall metabolism or energy flow);
  • health as balance between components (a form of environmental Buddhism, but how do we know when something is out of balance).
He preferred an index of the system's vigour of activity (V) weighted by indices of relative biological organisation (O) and resilience (R)

8. Concepts of nature/culture interrelationships

Are human ecology and culture independent from the environment? The work of environmental historians Simon Schama (Landscape and Memory), William Cronon (Uncommon Ground) Michael Pollan (Second Nature), Tim Flannery (The Future Eaters) and Geoff Park (Nga Uruora: the Groves of Life) suggest otherwise. We have shaped the environment through history as much as many other animals – elephants for instance.

Our separation appears to be a key premise of preservation/commerce strategies. And with it the idea that human interaction is necessarily harmful and that human segregation is necessarily beneficial.

9. Concepts of Environmental Strategies

Preservation/Commerce dichotomy with areas allocated to each

Is it providing environmental protection? If not, why not?

Ecosystem Management Integration where


10. Concepts – Ecosystem Management Principles ("New" Environmentalism)

Grumbine's Ecosystem Management Themes

          - Hierarchical Context:
          - Ecological Boundaries
          - Ecological Integrity
          - Data Collection
          - Monitoring
          - Adaptive Management
          - Inter-agency cooperation
          - Organisational change
          - Humans imbedded in nature
          - Values as determinants of Behaviour

Grumbine provided a working definition of ecosystem management; "Ecosystem management integrates scientific knowledge of ecological relations within a complex socio-political and values framework toward a general goal of protecting ecosystem integrity over the long term."
  • Modern concepts of ecology (as defined by dynamism and processes over various spatial and temporal scales – e.g. Leopold's Wisconsin (prairie -> jack-pine -> oak -> prairie 3 times since last ice age), NZ Ice age (beech gap, etc.), wind, volcanism and earthquakes with beech, Kirkland warbler (requires an ageclass of jacks pine that is becoming underrepresented because of human control on disturbance – i.e. an example of nature requiring disturbance, and human attempts to create stasis working against biodiversity), Redwood and Ponderosa pine – neither regenerate under themselves – need fire to create habitat) – NOT nature as static with humans the only element of harm
  • Human communities integrated with environment – Leopold's Land Ethic as a possible solution rather than the single objective allocation of preservation/commerce (oases/desert) idea of environmental management. Fundamental concept that use is not mutually exclusive from protection. Humans need to be involved in ecosystems to maintain ecosystem health – active management (deep ecology and an emphasis on ever more preservation doesn't pay the protection bills)
  • Particular processes
    1. systems perspective (nature is not a machine)
    2. managing landscapes across administrative boundaries
    3. Ecological integrity (not introducing species, "improved" genotypes, etc., or silvicultural "improvement")
    4. Data collection (research into ecological processes and protection strategies)
    5. Monitoring
    6. Adaptive management
    7. Interagency co-operation
    8. Organisational change (in values away from the purely utilitarian).

Embodies Daniel Botkin's message in Discordant Harmonies – quote from p 156

"Under the old management, management for conservation and management for utilisation (such as harvesting fish and cutting forests for timber) appeared to be different and, in general, incompatible goals. From an old preservationist perspective, nature undisturbed achieved a constancy that was desirable and was disrupted in an undesirable way only by human actions. From an old utilisation perspective, the forest was there to cut, take apart, replace, and put back together as one chose. If nature was like a watch, then one had to choose between the stereotyped preservationist's approach – appreciate the beauty of the watch, and use it to tell time – or the stereotyped engineer's approach – attempt to take the watch apart and improve it, or use the parts for something else.

Under the new management, our role in conservation is active: for example harvesting may serve the interests of conservation as well as utilisation, and the goals of conservation and utilisation can be part of one approach."



Is Ecosystem Management and Ecosystem Health a better base for an environmental ethic that those ideas that separate humans and the environment?

Can they work?



A MOVE TO MORE ECOSYSTEM-BASED MANAGEMENT APPROACH - WHAT THAT ENTAILS

Forestry Management Paradigms



PARADIGM
DESCRIPTION
(1) OBJECTIVE

(2) CENTRISM
SCOPE
SOCIO-
ENVIRON-
MENTAL
(1) HARVEST

(2) TIME
PERSPECTIVE
ON HEALTH
(1)
SUSTAINABILITY
CRITERIA
(2) ENERGY INPUT
(IN FOREST)
FINANCIAL
NPV
Ecological Preservation

(E.g. NZ Dept. of Conservation)

Wholly Ecocentric

MUIR




Single objective of protecting ecosystem health/integrity.

Management for
1. Intrinsic forest values - ecological diversity and function - and
2. Non-wood utilitarian values - soil and water, aesthetics, recreation, etc.

No forest wood
product use.

Requires external financing to maintain ecological health
(esp. pest control).
1

Single
Objective -


Protecting
Ecosystem
Health/Integrity

2

Wholly
ecocentric – no
commercial
extraction.
Intrinsic ecological values & non-extractive utilitarian values.
1

None.

2

Long
(ecological)
perspective
Relates to ecosystem functions.
1

Sustaining ecosystem functions, biodiversity and
complexity across space and time.

2

Low.
Nil or negative (Unless green accounting)
Ecosystem Management (Sustainable management)

(E.g. Timberlands West Coast)

Primarily ecocentric:

very long –term and broad perspective.

LEOPOLD






Primary objective of protecting ecosystem health/integrity.

Management for
1. 'Intrinsic' forest values - ecological diversity and function - and
2. Wider range of utilitarian values, including timber.
Timber management is within ecological disturbance patterns to protect intrinsic values.
Timber harvest set at below sustainable yield levels as constrained by intrinsic values.
Large proportion of funds invested back into the forest system, including its ecological health.
1

Primary
Objective -



Protecting
ecosystem
health.


Commercial use allowed within that constraint.

2

Primarily
Ecocentric
Broadest perspective - 'Intrinsic', utilitarian, community considerations.
1

Below 'sustainable yield' of timber alone.

2

Long
(ecological)
perspective
Relates to ecosystem functions.
1

Sustaining ecosystem functions, biodiversity and
complexity across space and time.

2

Low.
Less (unless green accounting)
PARADIGM
DESCRIPTION
(1) OBJECTIVE

(2) CENTRISM
SCOPE
SOCIO-
ENVIRON-
MENTAL
(1) HARVEST

(2) TIME
PERSPECTIVE
ON HEALTH
(1)
SUSTAINABILITY
CRITERIA
(2) ENERGY INPUT
(IN FOREST)
FINANCIAL
NPV
Sustainable yield & Multiple Use

(E.g. Some NZ Industry and farm forestry)

Primarily anthropocentric,

but encompassing issues of ecology and intergenerational time periods.

PINCHOT




Mixed environmental, social and economic objectives - respective priorities depending upon particular circumstances.
Management for usually utilitarian values - timber as well as soil and water, aesthetics, recreation.
Timber harvested at or below sustainable yield levels to cater for other utilitarian values.
Intrinsic environmental benefits are usually incidental, though not inconsiderable.
"Health" is measured in utilitarian terms - e.g. aesthetics, wood productivity or individual tree health.
1

Mixed
Objectives -


commercial and non-commercial utilitarian -


timber dominant use.

2

Primarily
Anthropocentric
Considers only utilitarian values to owner and wider community.
1

At or below 'sustainable yield' of timber.

2

Inter-
generational
Relates to utilitarian forest values - timber, aesthetics, water quality, recreation.
1

Sustaining crop production (wood fibre, and other utilitarian "crops" ) to owner and community

2

Low to moderate
– fertiliser not
required.
Sustainable Yield
"Cropping"



(E.g. Much NZ Industrial forestry)

Anthropocentric:

longer-term perspective than below.






Single objective on (usually) sustainable timber yield.

Social and environmental constraints, other than sustainable yield, are imposed by regulation/legislation.
Timber harvested at assumed sustainable yield levels.
Any intrinsic benefits to environment are incidental to management objective.
"Health" is related to forest's and trees' wood production.
1

Single objective –


sustaining timber yield

2

Wholly
Anthropocentric
Considers only utilitarian values to owners
1

At 'sustainable timber' yield possibly artificially augmented.

2

Shortest
possible
financial
timber
rotation
Relates to timber quality and quantity
1

Sustaining crop production (wood fibre)

2

High
(intensive
management)
– may require
fertiliser
PARADIGM
DESCRIPTION
(1) OBJECTIVE

(2) CENTRISM
SCOPE
SOCIO-
ENVIRON-
MENTAL
(1) HARVEST

(2) TIME
PERSPECTIVE
ON HEALTH
(1)
SUSTAINABILITY
CRITERIA
(2) ENERGY INPUT
(IN FOREST)
FINANCIAL
NPV
Mining/liquidation



Anthropocentric:

very short term perspective


Single objective of either maximising profit or land use change.

Timber harvest rates at above sustainable yield levels.
Funds not invested back into the forest system - invested in next mining operation.
Ecological health not an issue.
1

Single Objective -

Maximise DCF Profit.
2

Wholly
Anthropocentric
Narrowest considerations -

utilitarian monetary values of owners
1

Above sustainable yield for all forest values.

2

Short
(future very
highly
discounted)
perspective
Relates to cashflow and capital.
1

Sustaining capital and Profit.

2

Low
(unmanaged)
More (unless green accounting)

ZOOL 401 ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT REFERENCES
Chris Perley

August 2000


Concepts of Ecosystem Health and Environmental Ethics – What is an ecosystem? What is "sustainability"? What is Ecological Health? How should we manage ecosystems?

Robert Constanza, Norton B.G., & Haskell B.D. (Eds) 1992 Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management Island Press (especially the introduction by editors, and papers in Part I [Philosophy and Ethics] by Norton and Callicott. Section II – Science and Policy also contains good papers)

Kolb, T.E., M.R. Wagner & W.W. Covington 1994 "Concepts of Forest Health: Utilitarian and Ecosystem Perspectives"
Journal of Forestry 92 (7): 10-15

Jenkins, A.M. 1997 "Forest Health: a Crisis of Human Proportions"
Journal of Forestry 95 (9): 11-14

O'Laughlin, J., Livingston, R.L., Their, R., Thornton, J., Toweill, D.E., & Morelan, L. 1994 Defining and measuring forest health
J Sustainable Forestry 2: 65-85

Extract from: Canadian Forest Service 1999 Forest Health in Canada: an overview 1998

In general terms, a healthy forest is one that maintains and sustains desirable ecosystem functions and processes. The condition of forest health is manifested through a spectrum of ecological indicators, including ones relating to biodiversity change, resilience, wildlife habitat, aesthetic appeal, and resource sustainability. Forest ecosystems are naturally dynamic, often changing species composition and abundance as the ecosystem evolves through succession or reacts to disturbances such as wind or insects. These dynamics are an essential ingredient of a healthy forest.

As an underlying principle, forest ecosystems may be considered healthy when inherent ecological processes are operating within a natural range of variability. Degradation occurs when they are not as productive and resilient in terms of all components of the ecosystem, after disturbance.

Ecosystem Management – Environmental Management Philosophy

Elliot, C. Paradigms of Forest Conservation
Unasylva 47 (187) http://www.fao.org/docrep/w2149E/w2149e03.htm

Grumbine, R.E. 1994 "What is Ecosystem Management?" Conservation Biology 8(1): 27-38

Knight, R.L. 1996 "Aldo Leopold, the Land Ethic, and Ecosystem Management" Journal of Wildlife Management 60 (3): 471-474

Leopold, A. 1949 "A Sand County Almanac and Sketches from Here to There" Oxford University Press

[Especially essays The Land Ethic, (p201-226 for the A-B cleavage, as well as the ethic of land community) and Think Like a Mountain (p 129-133 for an ecocentric perspective)]

Perley, C. Forestry Management Paradigms – Mining to Preservation
Draft table (unpublished)

Modern Ecology and its implications for Environmental Management

Botkin, D.B. 1990 Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century OUP
[Especially Ch 10: Fire in the forest: Managing living resources (p 150-167)]

"Under the old management, management for conservation and management for utilisation (such as harvesting fish and cutting forests for timber) appeared to be different and, in general, incompatible goals. From an old preservationist perspective, nature undisturbed achieved a constancy that was desirable and was disrupted in an undesirable way only by human actions. From an old utilisation perspective, the forest was there to cut, take apart, replace, and put back together as one chose. If nature was like a watch, then one had to choose between the stereotyped preservationist's approach – appreciate the beauty of the watch, and use it to tell time – or the stereotyped engineer's approach – attempt to take the watch apart and improve it, or use the parts for something else. Under the new management, our role in conservation is active: for example harvesting may serve the interests of conservation as well as utilisation, and the goals of conservation and utilisation can be part of one approach." (Botkin 1989, p 156) Discordant Harmonies: A new ecology for the 21st century.

Budiansky, S 1995 Nature's keepers: the new science of nature management The Free Press

Callicott, J.B. 1992 Aldo Leopold's Metaphor
In Robert Constanza, Norton B.G., & Haskell B.D. (Eds) 1992 Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management (p 42-56) Island Press

Drury, W.H. 1998 Chance and Change: Ecology for Conservationists
U Cal Press
[Especially Ch 12 (p192-200) Human Ecology and Conservation]

Haskell, B.D., Norton B.G. & Costanza R. 1992 What is ecosystem health and why should we worry about it? In Robert Constanza, Norton B.G., & Haskell B.D. (Eds) 1992 Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management (p 3-20) Island Press

Norton, B.G. 1992 A new paradigm for environmental management
In Robert Constanza, Norton B.G., & Haskell B.D. (Eds) 1992 Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management (p 21-41) Island Press

Sagoff, M. 1992 Has nature a good of its own?
In Robert Constanza, Norton B.G., & Haskell B.D. (Eds) 1992 Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management (p 57-71) Island Press

Ecosystem Management Books:

A Haney, M S. Boyce, J Ward Thomas (Eds) 1997, Ecosystem Management : Applications for Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Resources

K A. Kohm, J F. Franklin, J Ward Thomas (Eds) 1996 Creating a Forestry for the 21st Century : The Science of Ecosystem Management

Park, G. 2000 New Zealand as Ecosystems: the ecosystem concept as a tool for environmental management and conservation DOC

Examples of Ecosystem-based forestry management

C W Dahms & B W Geils (Technical Editors) An assessment of forest ecosystem health in the South west' http://www.rmrs.nau.edu/publications/rm_gtr_295/index.html

An extensive report covering an introduction to concepts of forest health, ecosystem management, adaptive management, assessment approach (scale hierarchy etc.), the human dimension to the land, historic conditions, changes in ecological processes and forest conditions, current ecosystem conditions, tools for achieving desired approaches, research needs (understanding historic variation, ecosystem health, wildlife, insect/pathogen interaction, restoration and maintenance of ecosystems, cultural and social assessments)

The Silva Forestry Foundation http://www.silvafor.org (a very good site for resource information on ecosystem-based forestry management. A number of reports included)

The Menominee sustainable forestry initiative (Native American example)
http://www.menominee.com/sdi/homepage.htm

Environmental History and Human Ecology

Various books by environmental historians
William Cronon (Uncommon Ground),
Simon Schama (Landscape and Memory),
Michael Pollan (Second Nature).

A general introduction to major essays in the field can be found in Char Miller & Hal Rothman (eds) 1997 Out of the Woods: Essays in Environmental History.
Obviously Geoff Park (Nga Uruora: The groves of life), and
Tim Flannery (The Future Eaters) closer to home.