Institutions, Ecosystems, and Sustainability: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Institutions, Ecosystems, and Sustainability

1st Edition

Edited by Robert Costanza, Bobbi Low, Elinor Ostrom, James Wilson

CRC Press

288 pages

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Hardback: 9781566703895
pub: 2000-12-21
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In the latter part of the 20th century, humans are doing a particularly poor job of managing natural resources in a sustainable way over the long term.

Institutions, Ecosystems, and Sustainability focuses on long-term, sustainable natural resource management practices at the local, national, and international levels. The authors suggest that a major cause of the "sustainability problem" - regulatory policies for large areas that often threaten the sustainability of both natural resources and previously effective governance problems - lie in "scale" problems. Large scale ecosystems are not simply larger versions of smaller systems, and micro-scale ecosystems are not merely microcosms of large scale systems. The driving forces and feedback mechanisms operate at different levels and exhibit distinct patterns of their own.

Traditional management practices that do well at the local level cannot be expected to do equally well in handling activities organized at the continental or global scale. Even more importantly, when local systems are superseded by national or international management practices, local ecosystems frequently suffer.

The challenge is to match ecosystems and governance systems in ways that maximize the compatibility of these systems. This book builds upon this fundamental principle. Particularly valuable is the use of simulation exercises to explore the consequences of social institutions and a discussion of the progress being made in developing a broad global data base to test hypothesis about the relationship between ecosystems and social institutions, and to investigate ways to repair the damage already caused by scale mismatches.



"Sustainability is a widely accepted ideal for investigating and managing natural resources, but disciplined efforts to make its core principles operational are rare. This book is exceptional in developing a common, analytic framework and language for investigating how human institutions interact with ecological systems…"

-Sarah Michaels, School of Planning, University of Waterloo, in Environment Vol. 44 no. 5

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Table of Contents


A Framework for Exploring the Linkages Between Ecosystems and Human Systems - Cleveland et al

Dynamic Systems Modeling - Costanza and Ruth


Human-Ecosystem Interactions: A Simple Dynamic Integrated Model - Low et al

Scale Misperceptions and the Spatial Dynamics of Socio-Ecological Systems with Examples in Fisheries - Wilson et al

Investing in Irrigation Infrastructure - Ostrom et al

Integrated Ecological Economic Modeling of the Patuxent River Watershed in Maryland - Costanza et al

Models for Scoping and Consensus Building - Costanza and Ruth

Modeling Summary/Conclusions - Low et al

Empirical Studies

Empirical Studies of Fisheries - Wilson et al

CIPEC Forest Comparisons - Ostrom et al

Irrigation Institutions in the Diverse Ecosystems of Nepal - Ostrom et al

Empirical Studies at the National Level - Turner

Empirical Summary/Conclusions


Conclusions and Remaining Questions


About the Series

Ecological Economics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Environmental
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Ecology