The ecosystem approach to solving environmental problems focuses on the fact that humans are ultimately a part of the ecosystem in which they live, and that they rely on its health for their own survival. To this end, the ecosystem approach attempts to realign human activities with their ecosystems so that the actions of both are mutually beneficial. This approach to conservation requires a very detailed holistic understanding of the ways in which the numerous components of an ecosystem interact with eachother, as well as with abutting ecosystems.
This stands in stark contrast to conventional conservation or environmental managements tactics that focus on a specific problem and a specific resolution. The benefit of an ecosytem approach is that it takes the whole system into account, and thus the whole system benefits and there are fewer unexpected consequences (whereas attempts to solve problems piecemeal often result in the creation of problems elsewhere).
The difficulty with the ecosystem approach is that it relies on an entire population being able and willing to accept an incredibly broad view of their relationship to the environment. People will likely be expected to take part in conservation activities that they will not see the impact of for many years. Not only this, but ecosystems are incredibly complex, and devising a plan that encompasses one in its entirety is extremely challenging, if not impossible.
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