Twelve Ecosystem Approach
Principle 1: Recognise objectives as society’s
Economic, cultural and social perception of ecosystems varies
amongst different elements of human society. Human rights,
interests and cultural diversity must be taken into account and
ecosystems should be equitably managed for their intrinsic,
tangible and intangible benefits.
Principle 2: Aim for decentralised management (i.e.
Management should involve all stakeholders, balance local
interests and wider public interests, ensure management is close to
the ecosystem, and encourage ownership and
Principle 3: Consider the extended impacts, or
Managers should take into account and analyse effects (actual
or potential) that activities have on other ecosystems.
Principle 4: Understand the economic context and aim to
reduce market distortion.
Market distortions that adversely affect biodiversity must be
avoided. Incentives should support conservation and
sustainable use and costs and benefits ought to be internalised
within the focal ecosystem.
Principle 5: Prioritise ecosystem services
Ecosystem functions and structures that supply services must
Principle 6: Recognise and respect ecosystem
Management strategies must consider environmental conditions
that limit productivity, ecosystem structure, functioning and
Principle 7: Operate at an appropriate scale, spatially and
Operational boundaries are defined by users, managers,
scientists and local peoples. Cross-boundary connectivity
should be promoted where necessary. Management options must
consider the interaction and integration of genes, species and
Principle 8: Manage for the long-term, considering lagged
Characteristic temporal scales and lag-effects within
ecosystems must be taken into consideration. Preference of
favouring immediate benefits over future ones should be
Principle 9: Accept change as inherent and inevitable.
Adaptive management must recognise the dynamic and complex
nature of ecosystem properties and anticipate change.
Managers need to avoid decisions that limit future options and
actions should consider long-term protracted global change.
Principle 10: Balance use and preservation.
It is important to adopt a flexible management approach that
takes conservation and use into context and apply a continuum of
measures from fully protected to sustainably managed
Principle 11: Bring all knowledge to bear.
Relevant information should be shared with all
stakeholders. All assumptions should be made explicit and
checked against available knowledge and stakeholder views.
Principle 12: Involve all relevant stakeholders.
To address management complexities decision making should draw
upon necessary expertise and involve relevant stakeholders at all