biodiversity and other management goals. The extent of the tradeoffs and the extent of a manager's ability to effect the conservation of biodiversity are limited by the extent of the manager's authority or decision space.
Resource-management decisions in nearly all cases are incremental. A manager's decisions are limited in space by agency mandates and geographical constraints. They are usually limited in time by the ability to forecast conditions and human needs. But concerns extend beyond those boundaries. Although a manager's actions are local and immediate, the management perspective must be broad enough to recognize a range of values, as well as the implications of decisions for survival of larger ecosystems. A series of decisions, no one of which has major effects, can have major cumulative effects.
This report contains several case studies that are intended to show how a variety of management situations involving biodiversity conservation were or might be resolved. They include President Clinton's decision to reserve some 7 million acres of Pacific Northwest forests to protect the northern spotted owl and a local decision to protect open space in the city of Boulder, Colorado. Somewhere on that scale is the situation at Camp Pendleton, a military base along the coast of southern California that contains habitat for several endangered species but also has potentially high residential values if it were to be decommissioned by the Department of Defense. The latter case is representative of the potential for biodiversity conservation on the 25 million acres of Department of Defense lands, some of which are scheduled for decommissioning.
The conflicts over biodiversity and competing values in the case studies are substantial. Some are driven by the strictures of the Endangered Species Act, which includes only some of the values of biodiversity. The cases also show the limits placed on solving the broader problems of biodiversity conservation by the limits on the manager's decision space. In the face of those limits on a resource manager's ability to deal with the issues surrounding conservation of biodiversity, what help can this report provide?
A limitation of the case studies is that they illustrate decisions that were or are to be made in the absence of an overall strategy for conserving biodiversity. The Pacific Northwest forests case study led to a balanced regional decision to protect some species that depend on old-growth forests. Although important regionally and in itself, the impact of the decision neither extends beyond the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest nor fits into a broader national strategy for conserving biodiversity.
The intent of this report is to consider the many approaches to valuing biodiversity for broadening the resource manager's perspective. The task assigned to the committee that wrote this report was to examine "how current scientific knowledge about the economic and noneconomic value of biodiversity can best be applied in the management of biological resources." To do that, the committee reviewed the relevant scientific literature on biodiversity, its values, concerns about its status, and its treatment in analyses of its value.