Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

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Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Knowledge and values as the foundation for appreciation processes H 4.4

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the future, development potentials of current uses vs

option values for future use, shaping the environment

by use vs ruining the environment as a result of

alternative use, etc. With the same or similar categories

on the credit and debit sides of the balance

sheet, the decision is easy when there is one option

that performs better or worse than any other category.

Although a so-called dominant option of this

kind is rare in reality, there are certainly examples of

dominant solutions – and of the opposite, ie subdominant

solutions. Thus, for example, the overfelling

of the forests of Kalimantan in Indonesia can

be classed as a sub-dominant option since the shortterm

benefit, even with extremely high discount

rates, bears no relationship to the long-term losses of

benefits associated with a barren area covered in

imperata grass. The recultivation of a barren area of

this kind is considerably more expensive than the

income from the sale of the wood, including interest.

As a result of the Kyoto Protocol, this situation is

made even more acute, because the private-sector

players can gain private profit from the devastation

of the land by means of reafforestation if they class

this as a climate project. However, a strategy of this

kind (clearance followed by reafforestation) should

be classed as negative in terms of the carbon balance

(WBGU, 1998b). In addition to the lack of ecological

reasons, there are also no cultural, aesthetic or religious

reasons for the conversion of primary or secondary

woodland into grassland. At best, we can talk

about a custom of letting rainforests, as a ‘biotope not

worthy of conservation’, be put to short-term use.

However, if we disregard the dominant or subdominant

solutions, then the weighing of options that

violate or fulfil compensatory standards and principles

will depend on two preconditions: best possible

knowledge of the consequences and a transparent,

consistent appreciation process (Akademie der Wissenschaften,

1992).

show how ecosystems are burdened by different

usage concepts and practices and what are the specific

consequences of certain interventions in nature

and the natural environment. The economic

approach provides a benefit-oriented valuation of

natural and artificial resources within the context of

production and consumption. Cultural and social sciences

study the social and cultural feedback effects

between use, social development and cultural selfperception

and form the dynamic interaction

between forms of use, socio-cultural lifestyles and

forms of control. Interdisciplinary, problem-oriented

and system-related research contributes to forming a

basic stock of findings and insights about functional

links in the relationship between humankind and the

environment and also in developing constructive

proposals as to how the basic question of an ethically

justified use of the biosphere can be answered in

agreement with the players concerned. All of these

aspects are explained in detail in the specialist chapters

of this report.Accordingly, in order to ensure sufficient

biosphere conservation, scientific research,

and especially transdisciplinary system research at

the interface between natural sciences and social sciences,

is essential (Chapter J).

However, knowledge alone does not suffice. In

order to be able to act effectively and efficiently

while observing ethical principles, it is necessary to

shape the appreciation process, ie the process of

weighing the various options for action, according to

rational criteria (Gethmann, 1998). To do this, it is

first of all necessary to identify the dimensions that

should be used for valuation. The debate about the

value dimensions to be used as a basis for valuation

is one of the most widely discussed subjects within

bioethics. Of the various branches of science, economics

in particular has taken on this issue. For this

reason, in the following the economic approach to

the valuation of biosphere services is presented and

discussed.

H 4.4

Knowledge and values as the foundation for

appreciation processes

Adequate knowledge of the consequences is needed

in order to reveal the systemic connections between

usage forms, ecosystem reactions to human interventions

and socio-cultural condition factors (Wolters,

1995). With the Council’s syndrome concept, a number

of such systemic connections have been identified

(eg Chapter G).The ways in which the individual

elements of the system operate are identified by the

various scientific disciplines and then integrated in

an interdisciplinary network (WBGU, 1998a). The

task of applied ecological research, for example, is to

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