Ecosystem management in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem : a coupling of human and natural systems

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The Greater Yellowstone. Ecosystem (GYE) is one of the last, relatively intact temperate-zone ecosystems in the world. It is often invoked as a region that is ideal for the application of ecosystem management, yet no single plan or initiative currently exists for the area as a whole. Ecosystem management is seen as an alternative to traditional natural resource policies--those that been carried out within the confines of administrative units and have managed for a single species or a certain natural resource use. Ecosystem management differs from these policies in that it is holistic in its approach: it strives to manage whole ecosystems, which can cross numerous administrative boundaries, with the goal of achieving environmental sustainability. While there is an established body of literature that reviews the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in context of ecosystem management, no studies have explicitly explored the connections between stakeholder recognition of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and ecosystem management. Thus, the two objectives of this study are to 1.) investigate the extent to which the GYE concept is recognized by various GYE stakeholders, and 2.) critically examine this recognition in terms of the prevalence of the ecological and human themes of ecosystem management. The research uses the information contained within management and land use planning documents from a variety of sources and administrations within the GYE. Additionally, a questionnaire survey of residents of Bozeman and Red Lodge, Montana and Jackson, Wyoming is used to assess current knowledge of, and attitudes towards, the GYE and ecosystem management. The results indicate that many GYE stakeholders recognize the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem concept, and they do so in a variety of ways that represent both the ecological and the human themes of ecosystem management. The geographic concept of 'place' facilitates interpretation of these results and aids in developing a perspective of the GYE as a coupled human-environment system. This research extends the current definitions of ecosystem management that are largely ecological, to more fully include human systems.




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