Natural Resource Management: The Need for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
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- Ewel, K. Ecosystems (2001) 4: 716. doi:10.1007/s10021-001-0040-1
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Human influence is now so pervasive that every ecosystem on Earth is being managed, whether intentionally or inadvertently. It is therefore imperative for scientists and managers to work together so that appropriate management regimes can be put in place wherever possible. However, it is not always clear what is appropriate, and the difficulties that often arise when scientists and managers work together can be even further compounded by the inclusion of lay stakeholders in the decision-making process. The expansion of interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs would help both scientists and managers to deal more effectively with sociological issues and to understand how economic and demographic changes impact on natural resources. In addition, continuing education programs in these areas should be made available to established professionals to help them deal with new challenges. The concept of ecosystem services should be used to communicate the importance of various ecosystem components and processes to a broader audience. Consensus on a management regime can often be achieved through adaptive management. The process by which interdisciplinary collaboration can lead to new insights and research initiatives is exemplified by a resource management study on the island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. As a paradigm of natural resource management, microcosms like this small island community offer a unique opportunity for training and education.