An ecosystem approach to management recognizes the interrelated nature of air, land, water and all living beings. Rather than geopolitical boundaries and departmental divisions, this approach calls for creative partnerships that look at natural boundaries, such as watersheds, as the unit of management. An ecosystem approach involves the following principles:
Includes the whole system, and not just parts of it
Focuses on interrelationships among the components of the environment and between living and non-living things
Includes consideration of the natural environment, society and economy
Is based on natural geographic units such as watersheds
Incorporates the concepts of sustainability
Respects species other than humans and generations other than the present
Although the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 calls for an ecosystem approach, only recently have initiatives begun to advocate and apply it. As a result, this section offers the holistic, ecosystem view, as well as the more traditional medium-based approaches.
References: Implementing an ecosystem approach: Challenges for science, policy and institutions, The ADVISOR, September/October 1994, Great Lakes Commission.
State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference Integration Paper, 1994
Conservation 2000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) This six-year, $100 million initiative takes a broad-based, long-term ecosystem approach to conserving, restoring and managing Illinois' natural lands, soils and water resources.
EcoAction Environment Canada Since 1995, Environment Canada's EcoAction Community Funding Program has provided financial support to community groups for projects that have measurable, positive impacts on the environment. Projects submitted should follow the themes of climate change, clean water, nature and/or clean air.
Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network Environment Canada The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) is made up of linked organizations and individuals involved in ecological monitoring in Canada to better detect, describe, and report on ecosystem changes.
Ecosystem Approach U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted an ecosystem approach toward the effective conservation of natural biological diversity.
Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Great Lakes Commission Publicly released in October 1994, the Ecosystem Charter ties a common thread through the many policies, laws and agreements in the Great Lakes Basin, and explicitly defines objectives for an ecosystem approach to management.
Environmental Programs U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Great Lakes Regional Headquarters The Corps' environmental programs are associated with existing projects, new projects, administration of environmental regulations, and support to other agencies.
Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Check out this USFWS site for information on Great Lakes facts, invasive species, GIS research, education and much more!
Great Lakes Forever Biodiversity Project Great Lakes Forever is designed to raise awareness of the ecological value of the Great Lakes and concern about the threats to the ecosystemís health, and to encourage citizen involvement in Great Lakes protection.
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement International Joint Commission The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, signed by the United States and Canada in 1972 and revised in 1978 and 1987, established common water quality objectives for both countries.
Real People, Real Places Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Stories that illustrate the creative work of Minnesota's land managers as they figure out how best to use and protect our natural heritage.
Sustainable Ecosystems and Communities U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Community-Based Environmental Protection (CBEP) is an approach that EPA is taking to improve the effectiveness of nationwide regulations and other environmental programs.
The Ecozones of Canada Canadian Council on Ecological Areas This site introduces Canada's ecozones and the general concepts of ecological classification. Thinking, planning and acting in the context of ecosystems is essential for today's environmental management and sustainability issues.