Perspectives on Sustainable Resources in America
The vast size of the United States and extensive variation of its climate, topography, and biota across different regions contribute to both the richness of the nation‘s natural heritage and the complexities involved in managing its resources. A follow-up to RFF‘s popular America‘s Renewable Resources (1990), Perspectives on Sustainable Resources in America updates readers about the current challenges involved in managing America‘s natural resources, especially in light of the increasing emphasis on sustainability and ecosystem approaches to management. Written to inform general audiences and students, as well as to engage the interest of experts, the book includes assessments by some of the nation‘s most renowned scholars in natural resource economics and policy. An introductory chapter critically examines the concept of sustainability as it has been developed in recent years and asks how the concept might apply to individual resource systems. It considers the interrelatedness of ecosystem, economic, and social sustainability; the paradigms of resource sufficiency and functional integrity; and the contrast between weak and strong sustainability. The chapters that follow examine America‘s experience with forests, water, agricultural soils, and wildlife. Highlighting the adaptability and resilience of resource systems, each chapter provides a description of the physical characteristics of the resource, a history of its use, a policy history, and a review of ongoing debates in management and policy. Perspectives on Sustainable Resources in America concludes with an innovative treatment of biodiversity as a natural resource. The chapter reviews the definitions of biodiversity, the ecological and economic meanings of biodiversity, and current efforts to preserve biodiversity, especially through regulatory approaches.
'An insightful and provocative look at the evolving definition of resource sustainability, encompassing diverse resource uses, and essential ecosystem services along with commodity production. Its review of past trends and the current conditions of America‘s natural resources clearly illustrates the accelerating pace of change, and the growing challenge this poses for scientists and resource managers alike.' V. Alaric Sample, President, Pinchot Institute for Conservation 'Emphasizes the critical role that resource stocks play in sustaining biodiversity, supporting ecosystem health and, more generally, providing valuable services we seldom see transacted in markets. Recommended for students, researchers and those charged with managing our nation‘s natural resources.' Robert T. Deacon, University of California, Santa Barbara 'A valuable update both on the condition of resources and the evolving concepts of sustainability underlying their management.' Robert Repetto, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies