Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

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Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Sustainable land use E 3.3

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E 3.3.1.1

Fundamental idea: The development of a ‘system

of differentiated intensities of use’

Humankind makes a wide range of demands on

ecosystems and the biosphere. These reflect the

diversity of values assigned by humankind to the

biosphere. The values are derived and categorized in

detail in Chapter H; only a few examples will be

named here: tourism and local recreation, a mountain

forest that prevents landslides, aesthetic enjoyment

of nature, wheat production, the construction of

an insect’s wing as a model for engineers, flood protection

through the storage capacity of a wetland, rattan

harvest from the rainforest in Kalimantan and, at

the same time, its significance for the world’s climate,

the production of paper from the conifer wood of

boreal forests, mangrove forests that protect the

coast against erosion by wind and waves. This list

could be carried on ad infinitum. When we look at

this list it immediately becomes clear that many of

these demands are mutually exclusive. Competition

between various possible uses is one of the central

problems in dealing with the biosphere. It is completely

impossible to set out to construct an ecosystem

type that does justice to all of these requirements.

For this reason, a division of tasks or specialization

makes sense: a field planted with wheat is

very efficient for the production of food, but can

hardly prevent soil erosion or offer a habitat to a

wide variety of organisms. However, this advantage

of specialization does not always apply: For example,

a mixed forest is capable of combining a soil protection

function and the storage of precipitation with

recreational use and, not least, wood production.

In principle, therefore, two strategies emerge

(Haber, 1998):

1. Integration of conservation with use. Here a compromise

between yields and habitat quality should

always be aimed at.

2. Segregation of conservation and use. This strategy

aims at dividing the landscape into highly productive,

ie intensively used, ecosystems on the one

hand and protective ecosystems on the other.

However, the relationship between these two fundamental

strategies is complementary rather than substitutive,

because the two can be merged to form one

– at least in the majority of landscapes.With the (partial)

incorporation of strategy (1) ‘Integration of conservation

with use’ into strategy (2) ‘Segregation of

conservation and use’, the objective being pursued is

that of developing a ‘system of differentiated intensities

of use’ (Haber, 1971, 1998; Uppenbrink, 1998). In

order to implement a strategy of this kind it is firstly

necessary to differentiate between different types of

landscape use.

E 3.3.1.2

Differentiating between individual forms of land

use

From an economic point of view, the problem of sustainable

land use is usually presented as a conflict

between the economic use interest – in this case

especially the use of landscapes for biomass production

– on the one hand, and the necessary protection

of the biosphere on the other hand. Progress towards

goals on either one of these dimensions is frequently

at the expense of the other. Thus, at first glance, the

idea of nature conservation is in opposition to unlimited

private use. However, this supposed conflict can

be put aside in most cases. On the one hand, in spite

of economic use it is possible to take account of protection

targets and, on the other hand, differentiated

strategies of use can be developed because the level

of the conflict described varies depending on the land

use type. Thus it makes a difference whether a rare

composition of flora and fauna in an ecosystem that

is unique in the world is destroyed or converted by

human activity, or whether a landscape with ecological

characteristics found in many regions of a country

or the world is given over to (limited) human use. For

this reason, in a first, pre-structuring approach, an initial

distinction should be made between the following

types of landscape use – differentiated according

to intensity of use:

Landscape-use type ‘N’ (‘nature

conservation’ type – ‘conservation before

use’ principle):

This type categorizes landscape which is accorded

special status for its environmental characteristics.

This is important landscape from a biological point of

view, characterized, for example, by the fact that

landscape-use types with a similar biological inventory

are rare in the world. Landscapes that house

such unique ecosystems with global significance are

also called ‘world heritage sites’ and are considered

to be humankind’s heritage. These may be tranches

of landscape or ecosystems that provide regionally

important ecosystem services (Box D 2.5-1) and must

therefore be protected against unlimited economic

use. In this landscape-use type, the environmental

policy protection interest predominates, whereas the

economic use interest recedes.

Landscape-use type ‘E’ (‘economic use’ type –

‘conservation despite use’ principle):

This landscape type forms the other end of the scale

and is characterized by especially good private utility.

For example, it covers highly productive agricultural

land or areas where mass tourism is of great economic

significance. In this landscape-use type the

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