Salinas Chávez, Eduardo; Middleton, John. 1998. La ecología del paisaje como base para el desarrollo sustentable en América Latina / Landscape ecology as a tool for sustainable development in Latin America. http://www.brocku.ca/epi/lebk/lebk.html
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Canada, K1S 5B6
The title of this electronic volume of papers is a clear statement of the objective of the editors in assembling these papers. The background of the editors reveals the approach that is selected. Eduardo Salinas Chávez of the University of Havana knows the needs and the constraints of the region but who has engaged in frequent and intensive exchanges in other parts of the world, including Canada. John Middleton is a Canadian but has immersed himself in other cultures in east Africa, in Thailand and, significantly, in Argentina. He has a foundation in ecology and a strong synthetic knowledge of the other major elements of the activities of humans, other organisms, and their shared global environment. From this he has forged a substantial approach to environmental policy, particularly sustainable development, which is most valuable to the objective here. Chávez and Middleton have collected a starter set of papers which illustrate the application of ideas from landscape ecology to some questions seen as important, by workers from Latin America, in moving toward sustainable development in Latin America. The editors have engaged authors who know Latin America and the constraints that will be faced and who also have exchanged ideas with global sources and have encountered the potential of landscape ecology for their goal. These are researchers with a mission and the practical experience and perspective to seek applications from landscape ecology toward a more sustainable development of their homelands in a global environment.
Landscape ecology has the potential to improve the relationships of people to their lands; it has crystallized two concepts fundamental to this task. First, in order to forecast future conditions on a particular unit of space, we must study and measure a much larger plot of land. Processes from the surroundings cross any boundaries and affect things within. Second, in order to forecast future conditions, we must study and measure not only the type and amount of elements in the environment, we must do so with special attention to the spatial arrangements of those elements; we normally must be spatially-explicit. These two basics alone make landscape ecology vital in considerations of alternative futures for the land where socio-economic and cultural values of natural processes and structures are being integrated into a sustainable and socially acceptable future for the people and the land system.
Realization that important processes cross boundaries and that people and their processes cross between watersheds, leads quickly to critically selecting the appropriate scales for accurate meaning. The vital perspectives must be global and they must be local. All else follows. Realization that configuration of structure, just like qualitative composition, can affect system processes, brings with it the vital interplay of time and space for all dynamics. This frees us from the single, constant-factor arguments and the faint hope that just waiting will bring equilibrium. This set of papers explores these interactions of ideas from landscape ecology and their applications to the future relationships of humans to their lands.
By choosing an electronic book format, the editors have seized the potential of modern low-cost communication as a way to overcome any limitations on timely exchange of publications and ideas needed by workers in developing countries. This electronic volume will be available to anyone who can get online by whatever means or by exchange on disk. However, I hope that access to this e-book will lead to increased use of other sources such as Volume 1 and 2 of the IALE Studies in Landscape Ecology (published by Chapman and Hall and the International Association for Landscape Ecology), Nature Conservation volumes 1, 2 and 3 of the Australian symposia (published by Surrey Beatty and Sons of Chipping Norton, NSW) as well as many other volumes of studies that have been produced by the recent development of landscape ecology.
This electronic book focuses on Latin America which not only gives a particular ecological and cultural perspective to the contributions but also allows landscape ecology to be adapted to regional questions and approaches. The timeliness of this volume for this region is highlighted by Metzger et al. in their paper on rehabilitation of riparian forests in Brazil they point out that concern about sustainability arose mainly in the last decade and in this circumstance, in their view, ". . . the landscape ecology approach, integrating social, biological and physical environmental elements at scales compatible with management of territories, shows great potential for planning toward sustainability." They note that recently in Brazil landscape ecology is used increasingly in academic research and in applied projects for territorial planning environmental impact assessment. Grez et al. use the example of the Ruil forest in the Coastal Range of Central Chile to penetrate the overburden of management complexities and assert an ecological fundamental namely, if a renewable resource is harvested at a rate inconsistent with its regenerative ability, it becomes a non-renewable resource. Sebastiani et al. develop the incorporation of landscape ecology into impact assessment for a truly non-renewable resource (oil). This is a much-needed application where developers have commonly avoided a true, long-term balance sheet for extractive resource development.
Jose Lopez Garcia applies a landscape ecological paradigm to what might have been a soils inventory but is elevated and linked to sustainable development by his working definition of landscape ecology. His work is "...based on the structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems, by way of an understanding of the interaction of ecology ... ... and geographic factors, at a spatial and temporal scale that allows study and evaluation of natural resources, and the setting of policies for use, conservation, or restoration, to achieve a sustainable development through time to guarantee permanence for future generations." Lopez Garcia also makes the other crucial step which often has not been understood in developed countries, that sustainability must be linked to the productive and regenerative capacity of the natural system. Andres Etter et al. similarly transform a common question of production potential for palm fibre on podzol soils in Colombian Amazonia into a socioeconomic synthesis on a landscape basis. They show how sustainability can be dictated by institutional factors, policy and markets even when biophysical constraints are fully taken into the analysis. The same fundamental elements are illustrated in a different context by Lopez Garcia and Manzo Delgado in their chapter dealing with the potential of ecotourism as a protective tool for Cerro Pelon Special Biosphere Reserve for monarch butterflies in Mexico. There they apply the concept of carrying capacity to tourism and then use the limited tourism as a protection mechanism for reserves. Here again is an idea available to, but poorly used in developed countries, which may become part of a more progressive policy potential in Latin America.
In a study of participatory land use planning underway in the eastern Andes of Colombia, Andres Etter and co-authors discuss a process which could be valuable if applied in Canada and many other lands. The process is very creative in its integration of support for technical and communication elements with extensive participation by people on the land, even in diagnostic surveys. This study produced the important conclusion that self-esteem and individual negotiating capacity of the participating people on the land were the main limiting factors in developing sustainable, grass-roots stewardship. Exchange of findings in this topic could be one of the most important advances in global environmental responsibility; this is an example of the potential flow of benefits from Latin America to other parts of the globe which this book could facilitate.
Studies by DiBernardo and by Bracalenti et al. explore the concept of a landscape mosaic linked by processes and apply it to the question of sustainability of a large urban centre, Rosario, Argentina. The linkage of large cities to surrounding regions by ecological processes is a critical concept in planning for sustainability. Large numbers of people multiplied by their rate of resource demand results in an area supplying resources and environmental support to the city (an ecological footprint (Wackernagel and Rees 1995)). This ecological support area is geographically much larger than the city and is the basic process linking the city to its surrounding region, hence to its nation, and to distant nations in a hierarchy of global exchanges. This web of processes makes clear instantly the fundamental nature of the supply of food energy by photosynthesis (ecological productivity) and the synthetic economic system designed by humans to exchange economic wealth, services and goods from the city for food production from land beyond. This simple energy/wealth exchange expands easily by application of the basic resource use index (population X resource use rate) to become Wackernagel and Rees (1995) footprint analysis for the demands placed on the global system by a city (or a nation). In this electronic book, Bracalenti et al. begin the analysis of this relationship of a city to its supporting land in terms of the interfaces between the city of Rosario and its surroundings (the Parana River) and the nature and direction of flows across those interfaces. Elio DiBernardo explores a fundamental linkage between the city and its landscape, Luduena Creek, a waterway penetrating the degraded suburban periphery to connect Rosario to its surrounding landscape. DiBernardo applies a planners vision to the practical problem that the dynamics of urban expansion will not allow idealistic experimental studies of such ecological linkages in advance planning but sustainability requires something better than current degradation of the structure and linkages of landscape mosaics around urban agglomeration. He helps readers begin the adaptive evolution of a research paradigm which will give direction for improvements in sustainabiltiy of urban development under the current urban realities.
This electronic book will stimulate exchange of ideas among Latin American countries about applying landscape ecology to planning and managing for sustainable landuse. In doing that it also will help in the evolution of a particular approach best suited to the region. It is already clear from the contributions here that this approach will improve on the integration of economic, social and cultural considerations along with ideas from landscape ecology to give a more comprehensive view with appropriate temporal bases and spatial scales for the future human condition in Latin America. Almost surely, these improvements will be noticed by other nations, ideas will spread and be adapted to other regions and there will be global benefits.
Saunders, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge and A.J.M. Hopkins. 1987. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW, Australia.
Saunders, D.A. and R.J. Hobbs. 1991. Nature Conservation 2: The Role of Corridors. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW, Australia.
Saunders, D. A., R.J. Hobbs and P.R. Ehrlich. 1993. Nature Conservation 3: The Reconstruction of Fragmented Ecosystems. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW, Australia.
Vos, C.C. and P. Opdam. 1993. Landscape Ecology of a Stressed Environment. IALE Studies in Landscape Ecology 1, Chapman and Hall, London, UK.
Wackernagel, M. and W. Rees. 1995. Our Ecological Footprint. Reducing Human Inmpact on Earth. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada.