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Choices, Ecosystems (Forest), Sustainability: 

Choices, Ecosystems (Forest), Sustainability Which seems the poorest choice? http://www.cwbiodiesel.com/biodiesel/palm_oil.html A B C

Which seems like the poorest choice?: 

Which seems like the poorest choice? Old-growth forest Cottonwood plantation Oil-palm plantation Suburban sprawl


Approach What do forests & forest ecosystems provide? How do we define what is important or valuable? How do we conserve or preserve what is valuable? What approaches are available for defining what is important? What approaches are available for saving? Are we kidding ourselves?

List the goods and services we get from forest ecosystems: 

List the goods and services we get from forest ecosystems Fiber - paper and products Fuel - cooking & heating Water - quantity and quality Nutrient cycling Ecosystem energetics (food chain) Air - CO2 uptake, O2 release, pollutant removal Climate stability Biodiversity/habitat: plant and animal (wildlife) Medicine and food products Recreation/mental & social health

Ecosystem: A Human Construct: 

Ecosystem: A Human Construct Definition: An ecological system composed of living organisms (plants, animals, & microbes) and their nonliving environment. Ecosystems are characterized by: Structure & function Complexity Interaction of the components Change over time (e.g., disturbances), “young, mature, old.” These functions must be spatially and temporally coordinated.

Ensuring Ecosystem Goods & Services: Approaches: 

Ensuring Ecosystem Goods & Services: Approaches Let’s examine three different approaches First, we identify specific components we want in our ecosystem (e.g., wolves, spotted owl, vine maple, mistletoe, whitebark pine, etc.). Second, we identify a process we want to maintain (e.g., carbon fixation). An evaluation of the these first two approaches Third: A more comprehensive or systems approach. Two examples that use this third approach NCSSF - small scale, small perspective MEA - small to large scale, many perspectives

What are the threats to “properly” functioning ecosystems?: 

What are the threats to “properly” functioning ecosystems? Loss of habitat: Land-use change and irreversible conversion Disruption of biogeochemical cycles (N,C,P) Invasive or introduced exotic organisms Toxins, pollutants, human wastes Changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere Climate change 1. Save a species!

Whitebark Pine: 

Whitebark Pine

Distribution & Importance of Whitebark Pine: 

Distribution & Importance of Whitebark Pine Pinus albicaulis Special pine Large seed Special relationship with a bird Important for other animals

Ecological Importance of Whitebark Pine: 

Ecological Importance of Whitebark Pine Hardy subalpine conifer, tolerates poor soils, steep slopes, windy exposures. Often the tree line species Aesthetic role Keystone species (Rocky Mountain Region) Food source - birds, small mammals & bears Often colonizes a site, facilitates succession & promotes diversity Regulates runoff, reduces soil erosion Picture: C.J. Earle

Decline of Whitebark Pine: 

Decline of Whitebark Pine White pine blister rust: Cronartium ribicola, is a heteroecious rust fungus. All North American Five needled pines In addition, it infects all species of the genus Ribes spp., its alternate host. European & Russian species resistant Fire suppression Global climate change Mountain pine beetle


Situation Whitebark pine is likely to disappear. What are our choices? Do nothing (its “natural”) Remove the Ribes Breed for resistance Introduce resistant European/Russian species Selection and genetic engineering of the endophyte. 2. Ensure a function!

Manage for Carbon Dioxide Uptake: 

Manage for Carbon Dioxide Uptake Two goals: • Understand where the hidden sink for carbon dioxide is? • Use forest systems to take up CO2. • Approach taken by Canada - Kyoto Protocol Monitor Experiment

Methods To Address this: 

Methods To Address this

Take-home Lessons from first two approaches: 

Take-home Lessons from first two approaches Difficulty of managing single components or processes Determination of what to measure, at what scale, how often, etc. Techniques to measure state or change in state are expensive (what is there now & how is it changing) Monitoring - funds to & points to Understanding of interactions (cascading …) Regulatory environment may define Ephemeral nature (e.g., forest fire, bard owl)

Third Approach: 

Third Approach Work on maintaining “properly” functioning ecosystems Key: Remember all the functions?


Two examples • National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry (NCSSF) • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Program (MEA)


Mission: to advance the science and practice of biodiversity conservation and forest sustainability Critical Question: How does an owner or manager of forest land tell whether biodiversity and sustainability are being positively, negatively or neutrally affected by management practices and decisions? http://www.ncseonline.org/NCSSF/page.cfm?FID=1426

What’s needed?: 

What’s needed? Early warning assessment system that is Rapid & cost effective And that is based on Stand level sustainability (condition): Development of functional indicators (of ecosystem services) & associated benchmarks These indicators/benchmarks should represent best available information.

Does it works in practice: 

Does it works in practice Functions, variables and benchmark levels can be defined A sampling scheme has been designed & tested Evaluation is then a comparison of values and changes in values. Subsequent decisions are then based on goals and objectives set by land owner.

Does it work?: 

Does it work? Perhaps Weakness: Assumes that the indicators are correct and respond in a measurable way Assumes that we can react fast enough. Does not link objectives over large areas of land. Clearly better than nothing

Ecosystem Goods and Services: Example 2: 

Ecosystem Goods and Services: Example 2 Definition of Ecosystem Goods and Services Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Program Example

Older definition of Ecosystem goods and services: 

Older definition of Ecosystem goods and services Ecosystem goods: Biophysical elements that are directly, or indirectly, consumed by humans Ecosystem services: processes that produce, or support the production of, ecosystem goods (most involve some biogeochemical cycle).

Which is not an ecosystem service?: 

Which is not an ecosystem service? Provisioning Regulating Cultural Interventions Supporting

Newer definition of Ecosystem goods and services: 

Newer definition of Ecosystem goods and services Provisional services (e.g., food, fiber, fuelwood, biochemicals, genetic resources, and water) Cultural services (e.g., recreational, ecotourism, educational, sense of place, cultural heritage, spiritual, religious and other nonmaterial benefits). Supporting services (e.g., primary production, soil formation & nutrient cycling) Regulating services (e.g., water regulation [floods, irrigation], water purification, climate regulation, land degradation, and disease regulation)

Example of definition of Ecosystem Goods & Services: 

Example of definition of Ecosystem Goods & Services Soil provides the following ecosystem services Significant regulator of the hydrological cycle Shelters seeds, provides medium for plant growth, provides physical support Retains, delivers & derives nutrients Significant role in decomposition Contributes to cycling, retention & regulation of major element cycles (N, P, C, S) Role as a purifier (water, nutrients, etc.)

MEA Conceptual Framework: 

MEA Conceptual Framework

Framework Continued: Health: 

Framework Continued: Health Human pressure -- ecosystem impact -- direct/indirect health impacts

MEA Goals: 

MEA Goals Identify options that can better achieve core human development and sustainability goals. Recognize & meet growing demands for food, clean water, health, and employment. Balance economic growth and social development with environmental conservation. Better understand trade-offs involved—across stakeholders—in decisions concerning the environment. Rather than issue by issue, use a multi-sectoral approach Match response options with appropriate level of governance

Well-Being Defined (MEA): 

Well-Being Defined (MEA) Security: Ability to a. live in an environmentally clean and safe shelter b. reduce vulnerability to ecological shocks & stress. Basic material for a good life: Ability to access resources to earn income and gain a livelihood Health: Clean water, air, adequate nourishment, adequate energy for temperature regulation, good health Good social relations Freedom & Choice

MEA: Assessments & Publications: 

MEA: Assessments & Publications December 2005

Pressures on Goals of MEA: 

Pressures on Goals of MEA Population Growth Economy, consumption Combined demand on natural resources Land degradation & conversion Invasive organisms Climate change Public Health (e.g., HIV, malaria, nutrition) Template for evaluation Political acceptance & will (and consistency)

Yangjuan Village: 

Yangjuan Village Apparently intensive use of the land Is the use sustainable? And how does land use reflect and affect the inhabitants?

Yangjuan Land use: 

Yangjuan Land use Traditional Buckwheat Firewood Livestock Conversion from local land race of corn to new hybrid corn

Conclusion: Difficulties: 

Conclusion: Difficulties Setting limits and distributing Scale & variable (s) Measurement Monitoring Assessment Regulation Outcomes and Feedback Choices Political will = f (human will)

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