What does it mean?
Caring for Ecosystems
Ecosystems are communities of living organisms interacting among themselves and with the physical component of their environment. Ecosystems are experiencing increasing impacts from human activities, the threat of which will require extraordinary flexibility and innovation to successfully conserve and manage them. In recent years conservationists have fostered the idea that resource conservation can best be achieved by taking a holistic approach to management. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) is working with divergent interests on ecosystem-based approaches to conserve the variety of life and its processes in the Nation's diverse ecosystem.
Management Under Ecosystems
The Service's mission is to conserve, protect, and enhance the Nation's fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service has adopted an ecosystem approach to more effectively achieve this mission. Our objective is to implement consistent policies and procedures that will embrace the ecosystem approach in a "management environment" which considers the needs of all our resources in decisionmaking. This holistic approach to fish and wildlife conservation will enable the Service to more efficiently and effectively maintain healthy ecosystems on a long-term basis and to conserve the Nation's rich biological heritage.
An ecosystem approach to fish and wildlife conservation means protecting or restoring the function, structure, and species composition of an ecosystem while providing for its sustainable socioeconomic use. It involves recognizing that, in some way, all things are connected. The ecosystem approach emphasizes conservation and management of discrete land units, watersheds, or ecosystems and requires the identification of ecosystem goals that represent resource priorities on which all programs of the Service will collectively focus their efforts. The Service must work closely and consistently with external partners, public and private, who share responsibility for ecosystem health and biological diversity. This approach will enable the Service to fulfill its fish and wildlife trust responsibilities with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
In the Southeast Region, we are approaching our nationally mandated leadership role for fish and wildlife conservation on an ecosystem basis, partnering with other Service regions, with other Federal agencies, with Sates and their local governments and citizenry, and with non- governmental organizations. Together, we are working to achieve healthy, sustainable ecosystems that ensure a continuing legacy of abundant fish and wildlife resources for all Americans to use and enjoy.