A plethora of normative conservation concepts have recently emerged, most of which are ill‐defined: biological diversity, biological integrity, ecological restoration, ecological services, ecological rehabilitation, ecological sustainability, sustainable development, ecosystem health, ecosystem management, adaptive management, and keystone species are salient among them. These normative concepts can be organized and interpreted by reference to two new schools of conservation philosophy, compositionalism and functionalism. The former comprehends nature primarily by means of evolutionary ecology and considers Homo sapiens separate from nature. The latter comprehends nature primarily by means of ecosystem ecology and considers Homo sapiens a part of nature. Biological diversity, biological integrity, and ecological restoration belong primarily in the compositionalist glossary; the rest belong primarily in the functionalist glossary. The former set are more appropriate norms for reserves, the latter for areas that are humanly inhabited and exploited. In contrast to the older schools of conservation philosophy, preservationism and resourcism, compositionalism and functionalism are complementary, not competitive and mutually exclusive. As the historically divergent ecological sciences—evolutionary ecology and ecosystem ecology—are increasingly synthesized, a more unified philosophy of conservation can be envisioned.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1999
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