The wide range of definitions of ecosystem management depend upon the values of the persons defining it. While many of the speakers did not provide an explicit definition, four themes common to their presentations were ecological, social, political, and economical. We distilled from these presentations the following: ecosystem management is the manipulation of an ecosystem with all its species and functions to achieve specified social goals, and policed by the political system for some specified, sustainable economic return. A major source of contention is whose values should prevail. Since societal values change over time, EM must be flexible. Ecologically clear-cut boundaries do not necessarily provide socially and politically optimum results.
Bentley, Nathan M.; Halisky, Merland G.; and Price, Aaron B.
"What is it that is being referred to as ecosystem management?,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues: Vol. 5
, Article 19.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol5/iss1/19