Ecological health

Ecological health is a term that has been used in relation to both human health and the condition of the environment.

  • In medicine, ecological health has been used to refer to multiple chemical sensitivity, which results from exposure to synthetic chemicals (pesticides, smoke, etc.) in the environment, hence the term ecological.[1]
  • The term has also been used in medicine with respect to management of environmental factors (taxes, health insurance surcharges) that may reduce the risk of unhealthy behavior such as smoking.[2]
  • As an urban planning term, ecological health refers to the "greenness" of cities, meaning composting, recycling, and energy efficiency.[3]
  • With respect to broader environmental issues, ecological health has been defined as "the goal for the condition at a site that is cultivated for crops, managed for tree harvest, stocked for fish, urbanized, or otherwise intensively used."[4]

Ecological health differs from ecosystem health, the condition of ecosystems, which have particular structural and functional properties,[5] and it differs from ecological integrity, which refers to environments with minimal human impact,[4] although the term ecological health has also been used loosely in reference to a range of environmental issues. Human health, in its broadest sense, is recognized as having ecological foundations.[6]

The term health is intended to evoke human environmental health concerns, which are often closely related (but as a part of medicine not ecology). As with ecocide, that term assumes that ecosystems can be said to be alive (see also Gaia philosophy on this issue). While the term integrity or damage seems to take no position on this, it does assume that there is a definition of integrity that can be said to apply to ecosystems. The more political term ecological wisdom refers not only to recognition of a level of health, integrity or potential damage, but also, to a decision to do nothing (more) to harm that ecosystem or its dependents. An ecosystem has a good health if it is capable of self-restoration after suffering external disturbances. This is termed resilience.

Measures of broad ecological health, like measures of the more specific principle of biodiversity, tend to be specific to an ecoregion or even to an ecosystem. Measures that depend on biodiversity are valid indicators of ecological health as stability and productivity (good indicators of ecological health) are two ecological effects of biodiversity. Dependencies between species vary so much as to be difficult to express abstractly. However, there are a few universal symptoms of poor health or damage to system integrity:

  • The buildup of waste material and the proliferation of simpler life forms (bacteria, insects) that thrive on it - but no consequent population growth in those species that normally prey on them;
  • The loss of keystone species, often a top predator, causing smaller carnivores to proliferate, very often overstressing herbivore populations;
  • A higher rate of species mortality due to disease rather than predation, climate, or food scarcity;
  • The migration of whole species into or out of a region, contrary to established or historical patterns;
  • The proliferation of a bioinvader or even a monoculture where previously a more biodiverse species range existed.

Some practices such as organic farming, sustainable forestry, natural landscaping, wild gardening or precision agriculture, sometimes combined into sustainable agriculture, are thought to improve or at least not to degrade ecological health, while still keeping land usable for human purposes. This is difficult to investigate as part of ecology, but is increasingly part of discourse on agricultural economics and conservation.

Ecotage is another tactic thought to be effective by some in protecting the health of ecosystems, but this is hotly disputed. In general, low confrontation and much attention to political virtues is thought to be important to maintaining ecological health, as it is far faster and simpler to destroy an ecosystem than protect it—thus wars on behalf of ecosystem integrity may simply lead to more rapid despoliation and loss due to competition.

Deforestation and the habitat destruction of deep-sea coral reef are two issues that prompt deep investigation of what makes for ecological health, and fuels a great many debates. The role of clearcuts, plantations, and trawler nets is often portrayed as negative in the extreme, held akin to the role of weapons on human life. (See Human impact on the environment.)

See also


  1. ^ Gibson, Pamela Reed (2000). Multiple chemical sensitivity: a survival guide. New Harbinger Publications Incorporated, 375 Pages.
  2. ^ Sorensen, Gloria et al. (2013). "Intention to quit smoking and concerns about household environmental risks: findings from the Health in Common Study in low-income housing." Cancer Causes & Control, 24:805-811.
  3. ^ Teodorescu, Gabriela (2010). "Climate change impact on urban ecosystems and sustainable development of cities in Romania." CWSEAS Transactions on environment and development, 6:103-112.
  4. ^ a b KARR, J. R., (1996). "Ecological integrity and ecological health are not the same." Pp. 97-109, In: Schulz, P. (ed.) Engineering Within Ecological Constraints Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
  5. ^ Belaoussoff, Svenja and Peter G. Kevan (2003). "Are There Ecological Foundations for Ecosystem Health?" The Environmentalist, 23:255–263.
  6. ^ White, Franklin; Stallones, Lorann; Last, John M. (2013). Global Public Health: Ecological Foundations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975190-7.
Anticipatory democracy

Anticipatory democracy is a theory of civics relying on democratic decision making that takes into account predictions of future events that have some credibility with the electorate. The phrase was coined by Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock and was expanded on in the 1978 book Anticipatory Democracy, edited by Clement Bezold.

Other well-known advocates of the anticipatory approach include Newt Gingrich, Heidi Toffler, K. Eric Drexler, and Robin Hanson. They all advocate approaches where the public, not just experts, participate in this "anticipation".

The FutureMAP program of the Information Awareness Office program of the United States government proposed a prediction market prior to its cancellation on July 29, 2003.


The Casperkill (also known as Jan Casper's Kill and shown on federal maps as Casper Creek) is a creek in both the town and city of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York. It flows 11.6 miles (18.7 km) from Peach Hill Park to the Hudson River. Combined with its only major tributary, the Fonteyn Kill, it forms a 12 sq mi (31 km2) subwatershed. It lies entirely within the British royal grant of 1685 known as the Rombout Patent.

Catalina Island bison herd

The Catalina Island bison herd has existed for nearly a century. This herd of American Bison roam and were supposedly first imported to California's Catalina Island in 1924 for the silent film version of Zane Grey's Western tale, The Vanishing American. However, the 1925 version of "The Vanishing American" does not contain any bison and shows no terrain that resembles Catalina, according to Jim Watson, columnist for the Catalina Islander newspaper.Over the decades, the bison herd grew to as many as 600 individuals. The population currently numbers approximately 150. Biologists found that the American Bison of Santa Catalina Island are not pure bred; their ancestry includes genes from the domesticated cow.The island's bison herd is maintained and monitored by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Although the bison are not native to the island, they play an important role in the cultural fabric of Catalina. Therefore, the Conservancy has no plans to remove the animals from the island.

Controlling the bison population, however, remains important for Catalina's overall ecological health. In the past, bison were routinely removed and sent to the mainland to auction. In 2004, the Conservancy partnered with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Tongva (thought to be Catalina's original inhabitants some 7,000 years ago), and the Lakota tribe on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A hundred bison were relocated "home" to the Great Plains. Recently however, another solution was implemented. The Conservancy initiated a scientific study that determined that a herd of between 150 and 200 would be good for the bison, and ecologically sound for the island. Beginning in 2009, the herd was given animal birth control to maintain the population at around 150 animals.On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, a contract worker from American Conservation Experience was injured by a bison while working near Tower Peak on Catalina Island.On Saturday, February 17, 2018, a man camping at the Little Harbor Campground was gored by a bison.

Dirty dairying

In New Zealand "dirty dairying" refers to damage to the ecological health of New Zealand's freshwater environment by the intensification of dairy farming, and also to the high profile campaign begun in 2002 by the Fish and Game Council to highlight and combat this.The campaign led to the creation in 2003 of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, a voluntary agreement between Fonterra, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and regional councils. In 2014 the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord was succeeded by the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.


Ecosophy or ecophilosophy (a portmanteau of ecological philosophy) is a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium. The term was coined by the French post-structuralist philosopher and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari and the Norwegian father of deep ecology, Arne Næss.

Fish and Game New Zealand

Fish and Game New Zealand is the collective brand name of 12 regional Fish and Game Councils and the New Zealand Fish and Game Council which administer sports fishing and gamebird resources in New Zealand (apart from within the Taupo Fishing District, which is administered by the Department of Conservation). Fish and Game Councils are regionally autonomous bodies (similar to District or Regional Councils, but with far less functions), which are governed by elected Fish and Game councillors, who are elected every three years by adult full season license-holders across the respective region. The New Zealand Fish and Game Council is made up of one representative from each of the regional councils. Councils employ managers and staff, and the New Zealand Fish and Game Council employs a director; the role is currently held by Bryce Johnson.This model of user-pays, user-says fishery management is unique in the world, but has existed in New Zealand for close to 150 years. Fish and Game Councils are the successor of the New Zealand acclimatisation societies, which introduced many new species to New Zealand.

Fish and Game Councils are required by the Conservation Act 1987 to advocate for the interests of anglers and hunters in the statutory planning process. This advocacy role is vital as whilst Fish and Game Councils manage species, they do not manage their habitats (for the most part). Habitats of sports fish and game-birds in New Zealand are the responsibility of various local and regional councils, and also the underlying landowner. Therefore, advocacy in the public planning processes that set the rules for these environments is an important role of Fish and Game.

Fish and Game Councils were set up under the Conservation Act 1987 with the statutory responsibility for the sports of freshwater sport fishing and game-bird hunting. They are funded almost entirely from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and receive no government funding. There is a large base of volunteer rangers (warranted officers under the Conservation Act 1987) who undertake compliance and enforcement work for the Councils.Fish and Game started the high profile "dirty dairying" campaign to highlight the problems caused by intensification of dairy farming on the ecological health of New Zealand's fresh water environment. The campaign led to the creation of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, a voluntary agreement between Fonterra, the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and regional councils. In October 2015, Fish and Game resigned from the Land and Water Forum, a group set up by the government and made up of 50 environmental, recreational and industry groups. Johnson justified the move by claiming that the government had walked away from the collaborative approach, whilst the Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, wondered "what had changed". The new director of Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand, Russel Norman, explained the move by Fish and Game having to watch pollution in waterways getting worse. In an editorial, The Press hinted at widespread dissatisfaction among the environmental groups on the Land and Water Forum, and wondered whether other groups would follow Fish and Game's lead to also resign.

Gary Tabor

Dr. Gary Tabor is an American environmentalist with over 30 years' experience working on behalf of large scale conservation internationally as well as 12 years as a leader within the U.S. environmental philanthropic community. Tabor is known for his role as a catalyst in forwarding progress through large landscape conservation, pioneering the fields of Conservation Medicine and EcoHealth, and advising agencies and organizations about contemporary environmental issues.

Integration and Application Network

The Integration and Application Network (IAN) is an initiative of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. IAN's mission is to inspire, manage and produce timely syntheses and assessments, working creatively with a wide variety of global partners.

IAN helps scientists to effectively communicate their science. They do this through conceptual diagrams, science communication training, development of ecological health report cards and other assessments. IAN Press facilitates the inexpensive dissemination of these products. These tools allow scientists to build credibility with stakeholders, as well as enhancing the already substantial credibility with scientific peers.

Kelly Butte Natural Area

Kelly Butte Natural Area is a city park of about 23 acres (9.3 ha) in southeast Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon, just east of Interstate 205. The park is named after pioneer Clinton Kelly, who settled the area east of the Willamette River in 1848. It is part of the Boring Lava Field, an extinct Plio-Pleistocene volcanic field that contains 32 cinder cones and shield volcanoes in or near Portland.The butte contains a now-sealed concrete bunker built as a civil defense emergency operations center in 1955–56 and later used for emergency dispatching. It appears in the film A Day Called X.

Lessepsian migration

The Lessepsian migration (also called Erythrean invasion) is the migration of marine species across the Suez Canal, usually from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and more rarely in the opposite direction. When the canal was completed in 1869, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other marine animals and plants were exposed to an artificial passage between the two naturally separate bodies of water, and cross-contamination was made possible between formerly isolated ecosystems. The phenomenon is still occurring today. It is named after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat in charge of the canal's construction.

The migration of invasive species through the Suez Canal from the Indo-Pacific region has been facilitated by many factors, both abiotic and anthropogenic, and presents significant implications for the ecological health and economic stability of the contaminated areas; of particular concern is the fisheries industry in the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite these threats, the phenomenon has allowed scientists to study an invasive event on a large scale in a short period of time, which usually takes hundreds of years in natural conditions.

In a wider context, the term Lessepsian migration is also used to describe any animal migration facilitated by man-made structures, i.e. one which would not have occurred had it not been for the presence of an artificial structure.

Luis de Garrido

Luis de Garrido Talavera (1967) is a Spanish architect. Luis de Garrido works with sustainable architecture in Spain. During recent years he has only accepted projects where very strict ecological, health and environmental criteria are always respected.

Manawatu River

The Manawatu River, often spelled Manawatū in New Zealand English, is a major river of the lower North Island of New Zealand.

The river has its headwaters to the Northwest of Norsewood, Tararua District in the Ruahine Range on the East Coast of the North Island of NZ. It flows initially eastward before turning south-west near Ormondville, flowing 40 kilometres (25 mi) before turning north-west near Woodville. At this point the river enters the Manawatu Gorge. Beyond the gorge it again turns south-west, flowing through the city of Palmerston North, and finally becomes the Manawatu Estuary as it enters the Tasman Sea at Foxton Beach on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Metro Vancouver Regional District

Metro Vancouver is a political body and corporate entity designated by provincial legislation as one of the regional districts in British Columbia, Canada. The official legal name is the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD), the organization was formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) from 1968 to 2017. Further, it was known as the Regional District of Fraser–Burrard for nearly one year upon incorporating in 1967.

The MVRD is under the direction of 23 local authorities; it delivers regional services, sets policy and acts as a political forum. The regional district's most populous city is Vancouver, and Metro Vancouver's administrative offices are located in the City of Burnaby. The MVRD's boundaries match those of the Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) as identified by Statistics Canada.

Murray-Darling Cap

The Murray-Darling Cap is a policy limiting irrigation diversions in the Murray-Darling Basin (Australia) to the volume of water that would have been diverted under 1993/94 levels of development. It seeks to strike a balance between the amount of water available to irrigators, the security of their water supply, and the environment. The Cap was introduced by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in June 1995 after the release of the report titled "An Audit of Water Use in the Murray-Darling Basin".

The Murray-Darling system is a highly variable system in terms of inflows, and can vary between discharges of 1,600 GL and 53,000 GL. The average flow is 21,200 GL per year. In the six years prior to 1994 an average of 10,800 GL had been diverted, mostly for agricultural purposes. The diversion were having a significant impact on the ecological health of the Murray-Darling river system.

The Cap limits surface water diversions to a long-term mean of 12,100 GL per year (383 m3/s, 13,500 cu ft/s). Seasonal adjustments are made for wet and dry years. The introduction was seen as the first step in water management methods that progressed towards sustainable development of the river system. The Cap made water in the Basin a more valuable resource as it gave entitlements to its diversion more value and saw increased trade in these entitlements. While the Cap restrains further increases in water diversions, it does not constrain new developments, provided the water for them is obtained by using water more efficiently or by purchasing water from existing developments.

Sewage regulation and administration

Sewage disposal regulation and administration describes the governance of sewage disposal and treatment.

Soil chemistry

Soil chemistry is the study of the chemical characteristics of soil. Soil chemistry is affected by mineral composition, organic matter and environmental factors.

Stream restoration

Stream restoration or river restoration, also sometimes referred to as river reclamation, describes work conducted to improve the environmental health of a river or stream, in support of biodiversity, recreation, flood management and/or landscape development. Stream restoration approaches can be divided into two broad categories: form-based restoration, which relies on physical interventions in the stream to improve its conditions; and process-based restoration, which advocates the restoration of hydrological and geomorphological processes (such as sediment transport or connectivity between the channel and the floodplain) to ensure the stream's resilience and ecological health. Form-based restoration techniques include deflectors; cross-vanes; weirs, step-pools and other grade control structures; engineered log jams; bank stabilization methods and other channel reconfiguration efforts. These induce immediate change in the stream, but sometimes fail to achieve the desired effects if degradation originates at a wider scale. Process-based restoration includes restoring lateral or longitudinal connectivity of water and sediment fluxes and limiting interventions within in a corridor defined based on the stream's hydrology and geomorphology. The beneficial effects of process-based restoration projects may sometimes take time to be felt since changes in the stream will occur at a pace that depends on the stream dynamics. Despite the significant number of stream restoration projects worldwide, the effectiveness of stream restoration remains poorly quantified, partly due to insufficient monitoring. However, in response to growing environmental awareness, stream restoration requirements are increasingly adopted in legislation in various parts of the world.

The Wetlands Initiative

The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Founded in 1992, the Wetlands Initiative works with nonprofit and government partners, and with local communities, to restore wetlands in the Chicago Wilderness region, and in the Midwest at large. TWI focuses on the application of restoration ecology in the field, returning former farmland and degraded natural sites to ecological health.


A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether any individual wetland performs these functions, and the degree to which it performs them, depends on characteristics of that wetland and the lands and waters near it. Methods for rapidly assessing these functions, wetland ecological health, and general wetland condition have been developed in many regions and have contributed to wetland conservation partly by raising public awareness of the functions and the ecosystem services some wetlands provide.Wetlands occur naturally on every continent. The main wetland types are swamp, marsh, bog, and fen; sub-types include mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains, mire, vernal pool, sink, and many others. Many peatlands are wetlands. The water in wetlands is either freshwater, brackish, or saltwater.

Wetlands can be tidal (inundated by tides) or non-tidal. The largest wetlands include the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, the Pantanal in South America, and the Sundarbans in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment determined that environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on Earth.Constructed wetlands are used to treat municipal and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater runoff. They may also play a role in water-sensitive urban design.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.