The ecosystem approach: Science and information management issues, gaps and needs
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Changing public expectations and increased public involvement have challenged traditional management policies and practices. And with these challenges, the need for scientific information as a foundation for resource management decisions continues to increase dramatically especially when policy and management decisions are highly dependent on the quality and quantity of the available information and science. To facilitate this, the interface between social, economic, physical, biological, and ecological models must be improved. New and existing research results have to be assembled and formatted into packages that are usable by managers and decision-makers so that they are able to reasonably predict the future condition of resources resulting from management options. This study identified several key gaps in the science base needed for the implementation of ecosystem management including: ecology on multiple scales, multiple species science, monitoring and evaluation, 'benchmarks' of ecosystem condition, socioeconomic sciences and valuation, human dimensions of natural resource use, ecological restoration technology development, quantifying uncertainty and assessing risk, modeling, and the adaptive management process. However, the major lessons learned through this study are that, whereas it may be important to identify key scientific gaps, the barriers and their solutions may be more social or institutional than scientific in nature.
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