In sorting-out what ecosystem management is -- and is not -- it proves important to know who is reading what. Late last week I put together a list of my favorite 40+ ecosystem mgmt. books arranged as follows: (1) Ecosystem Management Generally, (2) State of the World, (3) Biodiversity, (4) Science, Management, Community, Politics, Place, (5) Ecological Economics, (6) Philosophy, Ethics, and such, (7) Complexity, Chaos, "New Science," and more, (8) Organization, Leadership, Management, and (9) Forestry. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, as I note in the introduction, instead it is an exposition of books I've found helpful in trying to understand where we now stand and where we are going.
4 pages. Dave.

One path toward understanding Ecosystem Management
Dave Iverson

Some years after I finished my graduate studies I read a small book on economics that helped me begin my education anew. The book is a 1932 classic titled An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science. In 1969, in the preface to the second edition, Lionel Robbins framed one of the great dilemmas of our time: too-narrow-thinking. "By itself Economics affords no solution to any of the important problems of life," said Robbins, adding that "An education which consists of Economics alone is a very imperfect education." Fortunately for me, at least according to Robbins, my education was varied long before I began to study economics.

Recently my focus has broadened further-- toward sustainability and ecosystem management-- including readings from disciplines as diverse as ecological economics, environmental ethics, conservation biology, landscape ecology, political science, cultural anthropology, and more. Many of you are traversing this same path, even though the ports of entry to the path are varied. I find it interesting that a steadily increasing number of economists (along with other professionals) are discovering this path and entering into the cross-disciplinary discussion called 'the ecological economics of sustainability.'

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from a colleague who is spending a sabbatical rethinking economics, his chosen profession. Having had the time to stop and think, and to read quite a bit, changed his thinking remarkably. His recent and very much changed conclusion is that "the discipline of economics is strongly implicated in leading Western civilizations to a lifestyle that is not generally attainable to most of the world's people, is not sustainable by most modern societies, and is taking them to the brink of ecological disaster." He and I still believe that economics can be useful in helping us to avoid the 'disaster' that we economists helped to create. But we also agree that no change is possible unless and until we change some of the most cherished basic assumptions of economics and many other sciences. I won't bore you with the details of those assumptions, you've seen them for several years on Eco-Watch anyway. Instead, I simply want to help you understand the background materials I studied while working my way toward this path of discovery.

From among the many books I've used to help reframe my own thinking I put together a list of my 40+ personal favorites, in several categories. This list is just a beginning. With your help we may be able to agree on a core list of readings for ecosystem management. Failing that, we can at least help each other to become better acquainted with the literature. My list follows....

40+ Favorite Books on Ecosystem Management and Such
Dave Iverson

Ecosystem Management Generally

State of the World


Ecological Economics

Philosophy, Ethics, and Such

Complexity, Chaos, "New Science," and more

Organization, Leadership, Management