Environmental Economics and Nature Conservation Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2913 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Animals

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Following this line of thoughts, most of the previous environmental programs focused on a specific environmental problem, such as the threats upon a certain species. FEMAT however strived to offer an integrant approach of all threats characterizing the forestry sector and to offer a solution that leads not only to sustainable revenues from touristy activities for instance, but ensures universal solution that would better manage the entire forest ecosystem.

FEMAT was in fact born as a result of the conflicting views and interests of various categories. A relevant example was offered in 1988, as the Forest Service and the Seattle Audubon Society were unable to reach a compromise that would protect the owl, an endangered species, and ensure sufficient limber for the industry. At that stage, the solution reached could not simultaneously comply with all National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Forest Management Act. The debate would go one for several years, with numerous court trials and dissatisfactions for both parties.

In this context, the necessity for a new environmental plan became impending; it was also recognized by Bill Clinton, in his first year of mandate. At a forestry conference in Oregon, the president recognized the need for the new plan to concomitantly serve the interest of the industry, while in the meantime protecting the well-being of the natural environment. He reflected:

"How can we achieve a balanced and comprehensive policy that recognizes the importance of the forest and timber to the economy and the jobs in the region, and how can we preserve our precious old-growth forests, which are part of our national heritage and that, once destroyed, can never be replaced? […] The most important thing we can do is to admit, all of us to each other, that there are no simple or easy answers. This is not about choosing between jobs and the environment, but about recognizing the importance of both and recognizing that virtually everyone here and everyone in this region cares about both" (President Bill Clinton, quoted by Johnson, Holthausen, Shannon and Sedel)

The vision shared by Clinton at the Oregon conference soon took the form of the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team. The team was extremely preoccupied with thoroughly assessing the regions in the Northwest parts of the United States. The findings they retrieved were extremely complex. The study had been based on the analysis of all political, economic, social and environmental features impacting or being impacted by forests. The results revolved around the beliefs that each region is different, and that diversified solutions of ecosystem and strategic management ought to be implemented.

The team created the Northwest Forest Plan, generically referred to as either NWFP or simply NFP. The program had the ambition of convincing representatives of both economic as well as environmental agencies to collaborate and reach mutual goals. Examples of institutions that intensified their efforts include the regulatory agencies and the land management organizations, the provincial advisory committees or the Regional Ecosystem offices. The first category of institutions collaborated to design projects that generated a minimal impact upon the endangered species. The second category of agencies ensured that decisions were made after insightful communications with the representatives of the federal agencies, the private landowners, the representatives of the citizens or those of the tribal governments. Finally, the third category was in charge of ensuring NFP consistency across interpretative endeavors, monitorization and coordination (Nelson).

Aside agency collaboration, NFP was characterized by the fact that it took into consideration the impact of industry actions onto not just the owl, but a wider number of endangered species. Then, the team handing the operations was constructed on individuals with multiple backgrounds, including both environmentalists as well as sociologists. Third, as previously mentioned, the FEMAT suggested the implementation of differentiated solutions. In the case of the NFP, this materialized in the creation of the notion and practices of adaptive ecosystem management (Burgees and Cheek).

As it can easily be deducted, neither FEMAT nor the NFP have completely succeeded in their efforts, meaning then that the contemporaneous society has still a long way to go to ensure environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, the experience has generated numerous valuable lessons:

The regulators and the communities need to recognize the equal importance of both environment as well as industrial and economic sectors

Successes can only be registered with collaboration between all agencies involved

It is crucial to implement solutions customized to the unique features of each region

FEMAT was different from previous environmental endeavors, and better than them, due to several reasons. First, the team succeeded in ensuring integration across disciplines; for instance, they considered waters and lands integrant parties of the same ecosystem. Then, they simultaneously focused on three directions -- geography, legislative regulations and time frames. Then, the team assessed all terrains, including the federal forests, and the assessment was expanded through several years, all with the ultimate benefit of increasing the relevance of the findings.

The final outcome of the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team is often criticized by the representatives of the timber industry. They argue that the team has placed a greater emphasis on the environmental issues, and has often ruled against the interest of the economic and social communities (Swedlon, 2003). Nevertheless, it remains of the utmost importance to state that, despite its real and perceived shortages, FEMAT remains a crucial attempt at creating a universal regulation of the environmental and the economic backgrounds. It is even more so important as it was a program ahead of its time, and an extremely complex and challenging one (Norris).

4. Conclusion and Discussion

The modern day communities are struggling with tremendous challenges that come from numerous fields, such as economics, the natural environment, or the technological field, with its rapid pace of development. In terms of economic complexities, these are generated by the internationalized economic crisis, which not only reduces the population's access to credits, but also costs them their positions, their life long savings or their pensions. Environmental regulations however also pose the risks of reduced jobs, generating as such incremental levels of unemployment rates, reduced financial stability, decreased purchasing power and generally lowered standards of living for the population.

The earth is undoubtedly the most important source of life. It offers foods, combustibles, water, sources of energy and so on. Yet, mankind has proven unable to use these resources and in the same time protect the environment. People consume far more than they require and these record high levels of consumerism generate severe impacts upon the environment. For once, there is pollution; also there is the loss of forests, which revolves around an annual 5 million hectares. This materializes in higher levels of green house gases, a reduced quality of the breathing air, poorer quality of waters, soil erosion or the demise of endangered species.

Nevertheless, the exploitation of the land's natural resources is a multi-billion industry, which creates millions of jobs worldwide. Within Illinois for instance, 65,000 individuals are employed in forestry operations. Given this situation, it becomes obvious that the world needs an integrated approach that will safeguard the well-being of both environment and economic community. An attempt to such a universal approach was made starting with 1993, through the Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team, and its Northwest Forest Plan. The effort is generally criticized for having placed a greater emphasis on the environment, in the detriment of the economic agents. Still, it did not manage to entirely protect the natural habitats and the forests are continually under threat. Nevertheless, the programs opened the door to a new era, in which collaboration would be inspired between environmentalists, economists, sociologists, politicians and others, with the clear aim of reaching mutually beneficial goals.

References:

Bratkovich, S., Gallion, J., Leatherberry, E., Hoover, W., Reading, W., Durham, G., Forests of Indiana: Their Economic Importance, United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, http://na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/forestprod/indiana_forest04/forests_of_IN04.htm last accessed on November 24, 2009

Burgees, P., Cheek, K.A., Policy Review

Johnson, K.N., Holthausen, R., Shannon, M.A., Sedel, J., Case Study

Nelson, J.E., Management Review

Norris, L.A., Science Review

Swedlow, B., 2003, Scientists, Judges and Spotted Owls: Policymakers in the Pacific Northwest, Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Vol. 13

2000, Conservation -- Economic Importance, The Illinois State Museum, http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/forest/htmls/con_econ.html last accessed on November 24, 2009

2009, Wildfires, The National Geographic Society, http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/wildfires.html last accessed on November 24, 2009

Deforestation, WWF, http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_forests/deforestation / last accessed on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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