The ecosystem approach is a management strategy that deals with conservation and sustainable use of resources in the same time. It integrates management of land, water and living resources as illustrated in the picture below.
The ecosystem approach is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies. These methodologies should focus on the essential processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. Humans are recognised as an integral component of ecosystems.2
The ecosystem approach can be used to reach the three objectives the Convention as stated in article 1:
The term ecosystem is defined in article 2 of the Convention: "Ecosystem" means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit"4
Ecosystem processes are often non-linear, therefore the ecosystem approach requires adaptive management to deal with the complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems. Other management approaches, such as biosphere reserves, protected areas, and single-species conservation programmes, are not excluded, but rather integrated to deal with complex situations.5