08 May 2007

Yet Another Update to Urban Greening via a Systems Approach

After playing with the Landscape Management System (LMS), I decided to check out other Forest Service research to find information that could easily be extended to Urban Greening projects. I ran across an article entitled Dimensions of Ecosystem Management: A Systems Approach to Policy Formulation. As the title might suggest the article provided some excellent insights into the necessity for using a systems-based approach to guide policy making decisions. If we accept that we have indeed approached the limits of sustainable throughout growth (i.e., we have no new land area to exploit), then we are faced with three challenges: reduce population growth, revise standards of living (consumption-to-waste ratios), and increase development technologically (sustain the production of all goods and services through increasingly sophisticated intervention)... The status quo is not sustainable. Given marked uncertainty in outcomes based on the sciences economics, ecology, and sociology, apparently the only frameworks available to policy makers are intentionality and adaptive management.

The article goes to point out further that environmental sustainability does not permit economic growth, but instead promotes economic development. The author maintains that understanding the limitations and synergistics of the human environmental interaction necessitate that we adopt a model that allows us to move up and down and back and forth in a hierarchy composed of functional relationship units (individual humans to society; individual organisms to ecosystems, ecology to sociology, past to future) that interact to form larger wholes and the properties unique to these wholes that emerge through synergy. This is a systems approach to ecosystem management that recognizes that management is but part of a much larger system.

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