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Last updated: 17/06/2014

Ecosystem-based management takes an integrated managerial approach to the species and habitat of a defined ecosystem.

The aim is to strengthen the resilience of ecosystems to external shocks, thus making them less vulnerable to an ecosystem shift in which a species may disappear from the system or the relative abundances of species markedly changes the ecosystem’s composition.

This approach emphasises the importance of the connections between species. However, rather than merely trying to create a static ecosystem in which nothing changes, ecosystem-based management emphasises the importance of adaptive governance. This concept necessitates management procedures to be flexible and to embrace change. As an ecosystem is interconnected, factors from outside the system will have effects; adaptive governance stresses that ecosystems evolve and that management needs to adapt to the circumstances.

This approach contrasts with the less complex single species management, which treats species in isolation and fails to account for the interaction with habitats.