Resource-management decisions, especially in the area of protecting and maintaining biodiversity, are usually incremental, limited in time by the ability to forecast conditions and human needs, and the result of tradeoffs between conservation and other management goals. The individual decisions may not have a major effect but can have a cumulative major effect.
Perspectives on Biodiversity reviews current understanding of the value of biodiversity and the methods that are useful in assessing that value in particular circumstances. It recommends and details a list of components-including diversity of species, genetic variability within and among species, distribution of species across the ecosystem, the aesthetic satisfaction derived from diversity, and the duty to preserve and protect biodiversity.
The book also recommends that more information about the role of biodiversity in sustaining natural resources be gathered and summarized in ways useful to managers. Acknowledging that decisions about biodiversity are necessarily qualitative and change over time because of the nonmarket nature of so many of the values, the committee recommends periodic reviews of management decisions.
National Research Council. Perspectives on Biodiversity: Valuing Its Role in an Everchanging World. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1999.
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