Grappling with the social dimensions of novel ecosystems

Date: 27, Mar, 2019
Author(s):   A. C. Backstrom, Georgia Garrard, Richard J. Hobbs, Sarah Bekessy
Publisher: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

The novel ecosystem concept has emerged in response to the increasing prevalence of modified ecosystems. Traditional conservation and restoration strategies have been deemed inadequate to guide the management of ecosystems that are the product of anthropogenic environmental change and have no “natural” analogs. Opinions about novel ecosystems are currently divided between those who embrace the flexibility offered by the concept and those who see it as a shift toward the abandonment of traditional strategies. However, the debate is missing a key element: recognition that all conservation decisions are socially constructed and that the concept of novel ecosystems is most practicable within a decision or management context. Management of novel ecosystems should be framed in such a context, and the concept evaluated for its capacity to meet social, ecological, and economic objectives.