Desertification: Implications and limitations of the ecosystem health metaphor

TitleDesertification: Implications and limitations of the ecosystem health metaphor
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsWhitford WG
Series EditorRapport D.J, Gaudet C., Calow P.(eds.)
Tertiary AuthorsHeidelberg S-VBerlin
Series TitleNATO ASI Series
Date Published1995
Accession NumberJRN00186

The semi-arid and arid regions of the world may provide some valuable insights into the applicability of the ecosystem “health” and ecosystem “medicine” metaphors. These regions provide an example of the applications and limitations of the metaphor because they have experienced and continue to experience degradation and change. Attempts at rehabilitation of degraded areas has proven to be expensive or impossible. Those parameters that are frequently examined to determine the “health” of ecosystems may be more robust in ecosystems that are generally considered to be degraded than in those perceived as healthy. Most such areas have suffered loss of productivity as measured by the capacity to support livestock and human inhabitants. Those losses in livestock productivity resulted from changes in the biological and physical characteristics of the ecosystems within these regions.