Nature conservation and landscape ecological principles
The concepts of ecological networks and greenways relate to the human environment and its development. Recent advances in environmental philosophy have shown the fragility of the concept of ‘nature’. New avenues have been opened up, from the new genetic and reproductive technologies to the awareness that the continuous loss of nature is a ‘foundational concept, a ground of being, a stable otherness to the human condition’ (Robertson et al. 1996).
Yet the beginning of the third millennium reveals a moment in which changes in social, scientific and technological sectors are rapid and multiple. In a dynamic environment changes in nature too become more and more human-driven, while the landscape becomes human-dominated. The natural environment has thus been gradually fragmented and now retains sets of habitats and species that cannot survive in isolation.
Within this framework, new philosophical directions in environmental sciences have stressed the importance of moving from isolation to connection and from a concentric to a peripheral approach. Nature conservation, accordingly, is moving from local to global. If the previous focus was primarily on areas of high nature concentration, e.g. national parks, now the focus is moving towards linkages between them and linkages between nature and the human environment such as greenways, ecosystem coherence and ecological networks. These concepts have recently become familiar in ecological language at both the scientific and the public level.
The above considerations are significant for environmental conservation and sustainable development, which should in turn become priority issues for national and regional authorities.