The term health ecology is coined for and creates a focus for the study of fundamental, complex and inter-related factors. Such factors, whether of a global or individual nature, impinge upon the health and environment of individuals, communities and the globe.
This chapter examines concepts, principles and practices of sustainability and analyses the range of indicators which provide the ground for a holistic approach towards the advancement of health and the creation of a healthy environment.
This introduction links together theories, concepts, applied projects and case studies in order to outline major dimensions of health ecology.
It highlights the conceptual pathway from ecology to health ecology, and links this to my own personal journey.
A holistic approach has become the requirement of our time which enables us to find the roots and dimensions of the issues of human health, culture and environment. There is a growing understanding and acceptance at the personal and the intellectual level that everything is linked to everything else.
We have come to realise that the world is actually a highly interactive, dynamic, non-linear adaptive system. It has become increasingly clear that traditional studies do not carry within themselves adequate paradigms for an understanding of complex phenomena such as health, culture and human-environment interactions. It is most appropriate that the health component of this complex system be an object of integrated study from a human ecology framework.
Health and environment are transdisciplinary, multi-dimensional and holistic in nature. It is their inter-relationship, interdependence and interplay that are the issues of intellectual, professional and public concern. These concerns have brought about the necessity for new thinking, vision and action. New approaches are required to soften boundaries, to integrate disciplines, to comprehend complex issues, and to develop strategies for non-linear problems.
The development of the concept of health ecology is a reflection of such needs at a theoretical and practical level.