Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene

Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene

Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene

Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene

Synopsis

Ecosystems today are dynamic and complex, leaving conservationists faced with the paradox of conserving moving targets. New approaches to conservation are now required that aim to conserve ecological function and process, rather than attempt to protect static snapshots of biodiversity. To do this effectively, long-term information on ecosystem variability and resilience is needed. While there is a wealth of such information in palaeoecology, archaeology, and historical ecology, it remains an underused resource by conservation ecologists. In bringing together the disciplines of neo- and palaeoecology and integrating them with conservation biology, this novel text illustrates how an understanding of long-term change in ecosystems can in turn inform and influence their conservation and management in the Anthropocene. By looking at the history of traditional management, climate change, disturbance, and land-use, the book describes how a long-term perspective on landscape change can inform current and pressing conservation questions such as whether elephants should be culled, how best to manage fire, and whether ecosystems can or should be "re-wilded"Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Change is suitable for senior undergraduate and post-graduate students in conservation ecology, palaeoecology, biodiversity conservation, landscape ecology, environmental change and natural resource management. It will also be of relevance and use to aglobal market of conservation practitioners, researchers, educators and policy-makers.

Excerpt

Most ecosystems are dynamic and complex, leaving conservationists faced with the paradox of conserving moving targets. New approaches to conservation are developing that aim to conserve ecological function and process, rather than static snapshots of biodiversity. To do this effectively, long-term information on ecosystem variability and resilience are needed. While there is a wealth of such information in palaeoecology, archaeology, and historical ecology, it is often inaccessible to conservation ecologists; the relevance of such studies to present-day conservation dilemmas is not always made explicit, and the jargon often makes such publications incomprehensible to those outside the field.

As conservationists grapple with issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainability in the face of climate change, habitat loss, extinctions, pollution, and socio-ecological transformation, there is a need for a long-term perspective that guides ecosystem management and restoration in our human-dominated epoch, the Anthropocene. The aim of this book is to illustrate how knowledge of long-term change in ecosystems can inform and influence their conservation in a dynamic and changing world, as part of a multi-scalar, interdisciplinary approach that brings together ideas from neoecology, palaeoecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology, and sustainability science. Starting with issues relating the management of large animals (elephants and re-wilding), the book journeys through increasingly complex issues of fire management, climate change adaptation and amelioration, and the maintenance of ecosystem services, culminating in the development of a landscape approach to conservation that embeds a long-term perspective in developing multifunctional landscapes that maintain biodiversity while meeting human needs for sustainability.

The book presents an optimistic vision for the conservation and management of dynamic landscapes in the Anthropocene, through a perspective that embraces the continuum between past, present, and future. Case studies show how palaeoecology and other longterm data sources can contribute to conserving biodiversity and maintaining ecological resilience, while promoting human well-being by fostering a sense of place and a re-engagement with nature.

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