Aldo Leopold's land health from a resilience point of view: self-renewal capacity of social-ecological systems

Berkes, Flickrit, Doubleday, Nancy C., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2012) Aldo Leopold's land health from a resilience point of view: self-renewal capacity of social-ecological systems. EcoHealth, 9 (3). pp. 278-287.

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Abstract

Health approaches to ecology have a strong basis in Aldo Leopold's thinking, and contemporary ecohealth in turn has a strong philosophical basis in Leopold. To commemorate the 125th anniversary of Leopold's birth (1887-1948), we revisit his ideas, specifically the notions of stewardship (land ethic), productive use of ecosystems (land), and ecosystem renewal. We focus on Leopold's perspective on the selfrenewal capacity of the land, as understood in terms of integrity and land health, from the contemporary perspective of resilience theory and ecological theory more generally. Using a broad range of literature, we explore insights and implications of Leopold's work for today's human-environment relationships (integrated social-ecological systems), concerns for biodiversity, the development of agency with respect to stewardship, and key challenges of his time and of ours. Leopold's seminal concept of land health can be seen as a triangulation of productive use, self-renewal, and stewardship, and it can be reinterpreted through the resilience lens as the health of social-ecological systems. In contemporary language, this involves the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the ability to exercise agency both for conservation and for environmental justice.

Item ID: 40961
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1612-9210
Keywords: Aldo Leopold, ecosystem health, environmental ethics, environmental health, resilience theory
Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canada Research Chairs Program, McMaster University, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, National Research Foundation of South Africa, University of Cape Town
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2015 00:53
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 34%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified @ 33%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961308 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas at Regional or Larger Scales @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 34%
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