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Restoring ecosystem health and integrity during a human population increase to ten billion

Abstract

Human population growth and the improving condition of human populations in developing countries affect ecological health and integrity. Agricultural development co-opts increasing amounts of global primary production, degrading lands, and reducing species richness. The development of human populations and associated increasing demands for energy assures disposal for increasing amounts of waste, further damaging local ecosystems. Global climate change resulting from diffuse pollutants will affect even the most pristine ecosystems. The human challenge is to maintain ecological integrity and restore ecosystems in the face of accelerating development. The present level of ecosystem protection in not sufficient. Only integrated means of assessing recovery potential and acting to restore ecological productivity can assure continued availability of ecosystem services ranging from free production of food and fiber by plants and animals to final waste assimilation. Restoring ecosystems presumes that species sources are available and that adequate management is in place to monitor and manage recovery. Today, even in the most advanced societies, management is fragmented by non-integrative thinking and the failure to realize that the human scale of political decision-making and management is inappropriate to assure ecosystem restoration. Only by adopting radically new ideas integrating management and ecosystem science can ecological integrity be maintained.

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Cairns, J., Pratt, J.R. Restoring ecosystem health and integrity during a human population increase to ten billion. J Aquat Ecosyst Stress Recov 1, 59–68 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00044409

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00044409

Keywords

  • global change
  • ecosystem restoration
  • human population growth