Problem Solving Concepts

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Har- vesting or managing populations over long periods can also produce un- desired cumulative genetic changes (Chapter 11.

SCOPING THE PROBLEM Scoping involves bringing together all interested parties public, busi- ness, government, and scientific so that they can interact and express their views before major actions or studies are initiated (Council on En- vironmental Quality, 19781.

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Identifying environmental goals is complex and requires input from the public and from scientists.

Problem Solving Concepts

The public is concerned primarily with the choice of environmental goals.In fisheries, managing for maximal sustainable yield often produces large variations in both yields and stock abundance (May 1980), making overexploitation and population collapse more likely A SCIENTIFIC FRAMEWORK FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM-SOLVING 107 TABLE 2 Some Common Cntena for Identifying Important Issues and Valued Ecosystem Components in Impact Assessment Legal requirements Air and water quality standards Public health Rare, threatened, and endangered species Protected areas or habitats Aesthetic values Landscape appeal Attractive communities Appealing species (e,g., large ungulates, colorful birds, cacti) Species at higher trophic levels (e.g., eagles and tigers) Clear air and water .Economic concerns Species or habitats of recreational or commercial interest Ecosystem components Environmental values and concerns Ecosystem rarity or uniqueness Sensitivity of species or ecosystems to stress Ecosystem " naturalness " Genetic resources Ecosystem services Recovery potential of ecosystems "Keystone" species than more conservative management would (e.g., Murphy, 19771.Such studies must be carefully planned, because they are expensive in time, money, and effort.This chapter presents a general framework for identifying, scoping, and planning studies of en- vironmental problems.Despite their bewildering variety, environmental problems share some basic features, including actions that result in environmental changes, public and scientific concern about those changes, a need for methods for predicting environmental responses to human actions, and limited re- sources for the acquisition and analysis of relevant ecological information.We draw heavily on a number of recent efforts to make environmental assessment and management scientifically more credible (Andrews et al.(1981), and Skutch and Flowerdeu (1976) Guidelines too elaborate and requirements too diverse Time and money constraints not recognized Unreasonable expectations of decision-makers Tendency to start gathering baseline data immediately, at the expense of careful planning Failure to formulate objectives clearly and to develop a study strategy Unwarranted belief that ecological principles used in managed systems are as appropriate to unmanaged systems Failure to recognize the value of early input from those who might later be involved in re view, leading to an adversarial process Failure to define project boundaries Failure to consider cumulative effects Failure to state the bases of value judgments Lack of scientific standards for impact assessment Lack of respect in academe for impact assessment Vague and unverifiable predictions Lack of a rigorous, quantitative approach, especially in monitoring Lack of continuity in studies conducted during planning, developmental, and operational phases of a project Failure to follow actions with adequate monitoring studies Use of impact assessment for disclosure, rather than for learning Failure to recognize the scientific value of experimentation and monitoring Failure to consider the recovery potential of species and ecosystems Poorly written reports in which major points are buried in enormous amounts of information Inordinate expenditure of effort on descriptive studies with little potential for predictive value Inaccessibility of reports and results of studies, making them difficult to evaluate and learn from DEFINING ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS AND SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS In spite of the difficulties and controversies associated with identifying environmental goals, a clear statement of goals early on can help to focus research and can increase the chance of protecting components of the environment likely to be identified as valuable to society.The first step in defining such goals is to identify the components of the environment perceived as valuable, such as salmon in rivers of the northwestern and northeastern United States, a "natural-looking" community of plants on reclaimed land (Chapter 18), clean water (Chapter 20), clean air, forest productivity (Chapter 19), and fishery productivity (Chapter 12~.Early scoping can help to identify the im- portant issues and potential environmental effects associated with planned actions.It can help to define scientific objectives and guide the design of ecological studies.


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