Ecosystem Management and Multiple Use

Ecosystem Management and Multiple Use

Ecosystem Management and Multiple Use

Just recently, the world’s population reached 6 billion people. With such a large number of people living on the earth and affecting the earth, we need to highly consider the best type of management for our forests. With the thought of new management for the forests and their ecosystems, some new buzzwords have developed: ecosystem management, biological integrity, and forest health. This paper focuses mainly on ecosystem management versus multiple use management to see if there is an actual shift in the concepts of forestry or to see if ecosystem management is just a new way of saying multiple use management, the term that is used in traditional forestry language.

Ecosystem management integrates scientific knowledge of ecological relationships within a complex sociopolitical and values framework toward the general goal of protecting native ecosystem diversity over the long term (Grumbine 1994). Ecosystem management is the management of natural resources, to protect and preserve the native biodiversity of an ecosystem, and to maintain and enhance the health of the ecosystem while producing commodities and other essential items from the ecosystem needed by humans and desired by society, over a period of time. In essence, this definition sounds a little more like a dressed-up definition that takes into account the environmentalists’ views by mentioning such terms as “native biodiversity” and “protecting native ecosystem diversity.” This definition also includes the utilitarianists’ viewpoints, which are another way of saying ecosystem management is multiple use management.

Pearson (1994) asserted that multiple use was a mosaic of dominant uses, with conflicts resolved through spatial and temporal separation (Gorte 1999). Another definition of multiple use forestry is the use of forestlands to suit the needs of more then one group of people at one time. It takes into consideration the naturalists’ viewpoints, (to keep a landscape good to look at), and the utilitarianists’ viewpoints, (to log the land and acquire money from timber sales).

From the definitions, there are some similarities and some differences between ecosystem management and multiple use management, which help dispute whether ecosystem management is a new term for an old concept or if ecosystem management is .a whole new type of forestry practice. Ecosystem management is not a new word describing an old idea. Ecosystem management encompasses some of the thoughts and ideas that go along with multiple use forestry, but ecosystem management goes beyond the normal concepts of multiple use management. For instance, multiple use management doesn’t take into consideration forest health, biological diversity or biological integrity because the ideas of management practices end at the property edge of whoever owns it. The Sundry Civil Appropriations Act of 1897 specified that the purposes of the reserves were “to improve and protect the forest within the boundaries and to furnish a continuous supply of timber” (Gorte 1999). Ecosystem management, on the other hand, requires cooperation between agencies, local governments, and individual citizens because ownership units often do not correspond to ecosystem boundaries (Smith 1999). This helps to ensure a healthier forest ecosystem with greater biological diversity and viable levels of native habitats. Also, multiple use management is how people wish to utilize the land and the forests on it in different ways. For instance, some people want forests to look at and to value the land for its aesthetics. But in actuality, the best management practice for that forest is some type of silvacultural practice, such as a seed tree cut.

I feel that ecosystem management is a much broader term that takes into consideration thoughts and ideas that haven’t been included in traditional forestry management practices. These thoughts and ideas are new, developing concepts in the field and are still very fuzzy, gray areas when people talk about them. The concepts are creating much controversy right now over the idea of ecosystem management in the United States Forest Service and in the industrial sector. In the long run, I think ecosystem management will prevail as a new forestry concept, one of the main tools used in managing forests in the next era. Even if ecosystem management does not become what I predict, I feel that the ramifications it will have on the idea of multiple use management will create a much more diversified management tool for foresters to use.


Egan, Andrew; Wadron, Kathy; Rashka, Jason; and Bender, John. 1999. Ecosystem Management in the Northeast: A Forestry Paradigm Shift? Journal of Forestry. 97(10) 24-30.

Frost, Evan. 1993. Ecosystem management in the Columbia Mountains. Forest Watch 13(7):23-26.

Gorte, Ross. 1999. Multiple Use in the National Forests: Rise and Fall or Evolution?

Journal of Forestry. 97(10) 19-23.
Grumbine, R. Edward. 1994. What is ecosystem management? Conservation Biology 8(1):27-38.

Smith, Patrick D.; Mcdonough, Maureen H.; Mang, Michael T. Ecosystem Management and Public Participation: Lessons from the Field. Journal of Forestry. 97(10) 32-38.