Landscape and ecology

The need for an holistic approach to the conservation of habitats and biota

Authored by: Louis F. Cassar

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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The relationship between people and the natural world is, to say the least, complex. On the one hand, people depend for their very existence on a healthy natural support system. Nature provides us with a suite of goods and services which enable human survival. These include provisioning of food, water and materials, climate and water regulation, nutrient cycling, pollination, primary production, and aesthetic, spiritual and recreational benefits, amongst many others (De Groot et al. 2002). The value of these ecosystem services is indisputable, even if difficult to quantify, and contributes to fundamental constituents of human well-being, including security, basic material needed for a ‘good’ life, health, and good social relations (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Indeed in the overall balance of nature, man is far more dependent on other species than they are on us; as eloquently put by E. O. Wilson, ‘If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos’ (Wilson 1985 cited in Jarski 2007: 269).

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