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POL562: Environmental Policy Lecture Booklet

POL562: Environmental Policy Lecture Booklet

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Published by Chad J. McGuire
Lecture materials in booklet form for POL562: Environmental Policy. Brought to you through the Department of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. This course is part of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) concentration in environmental policy, and also part of the online graduate certificate in environmental policy.
Lecture materials in booklet form for POL562: Environmental Policy. Brought to you through the Department of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. This course is part of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) concentration in environmental policy, and also part of the online graduate certificate in environmental policy.

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Published by: Chad J. McGuire on Dec 14, 2012
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07/11/2014

From a larger perspective, ecosystem-based management allows for a management
philosophy (including the development and implementation of policy goals) that provides
for the internalization of natural system values, including the provisioning, regulating,
and cultural services mentioned in the previous section. Assume the fin rot disease
mentioned earlier was caused by bacteria, and the bacteria was in particularly high
concentrations because of nutrient runoff from nearby farms thus causing the outbreak in
the target fish population. Assume further the nutrient runoff used to be neutralized by a
saltwater marsh (wetland) that was filled in for a residential development project; the
marsh would filter out the nutrients and stabilize them in the marsh environment before
they escaped into the open waters. Now with these assumptions we can identify the
following services:

• The target fish species is a provisioning service that is directly used by humans
for consumption. Once captured, the fish species is openly sold and resold in a
market system. Thus, the direct value of the fish species is relatively easy to
identify.

Page 14 of 63

• The agricultural practices on the farm are also provisioning services; land that
was once in a ‘natural’ state has been altered to grow produce and other product
for human consumption. To enhance growing rates and product yield, fertilizer
(nutrients) is spread on the field. The products yielded on the farm are regularly
sold in market systems, thus the direct value of the agricultural practice can be
ascertained.

• The salt marsh (wetland) is a regulating service; one of the regulating services
provided by the wetland was to filter out nutrient runoff from nearby farms thus
preventing the nutrients from causing bacteria blooms and, in this case, fin rot.
This is one example of how the salt marsh provided indirect services to the
commercial fishing industry.

Land transition from salt marsh to residential development is a provisioning
service
in the same way that land transitioned to agricultural use (described
above).

It is likely the value of the salt marsh as a contributor to the health of the commercial fish
population was unknown. However, it is a fact that that salt marsh contributed to the
health of the commercial fish species. The value of the marsh then can be indirectly
calculated by the value of the commercial fish lost to the fin rot disease.10

From an

ecosystem-based management perspective a few points can be highlighted:

• Like the assumption about biodiversity, we can assume that ecosystems –
including parts of ecosystems – are contributors to the overall health and
wellbeing of the natural system.

• Because components of the system may be critical in helping to maintain the
integrity of the larger system, a presumption that everything natural is important
may not be an unreasonable assumption to start from when engaging in
environmental policy.

• Under an assumption that everything is important, a precautionary approach
may be a superior starting point for any environmental policy.

Adaptive management techniques are an essential process-orientated means of
internalizing the presumption of ecosystem value and working with precaution
because the policy technique is meant to change based on the assumption that
nature will constantly be evolving and ‘telling’ us more about how it helps to
provide us with valuable services (ala Costanza).

10

Note: this is just one of the values the salt marsh provided, there likely are many other
regulating services it provided as well.

Page 15 of 63

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