Applying the ecosystem approach in Latin America
As pressures on natural resources increase worldwide, it is recognised that the environmental and social tools that guide economic development are mainly reactive and have marginal effect. The negative implications of this are clear: loss of critical ecosystem services - on which human society depends - and rapid extinction of species. This, together with the growing probability of severe climate change, requires more proactive approaches to sustainable development to be adopted.
The Ecosystem Approach (EA) is a proactive strategy for intehrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes equitable conservation and sustainable use. It places people and their natural resource management practices at the heart of decision-making. For this reason, it can be used to find an appropriate balance between conservation and use of biological diversity in areas where there are multiple users of important natural resources and values. Latin America is a key area in which to demonstrate EA application. The IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), Alexander von Humboldt Institute (AvHI), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Tropenbos Foundation organised a workshop in June 2007 to review the experiences acquired from the application of the EA in Latin America and summarise lessons learned to allow more successful application of the approach in the future.