To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Introduction: origins and development of the ecosystem health concept
The need to understand and quantify ecosystem behaviour and condition has come to the forefront of environmental policy due to a greater emphasis on environmental sustainability and an accompanying recognition of the scarcity of natural resources, such as water, soil and biological diversity. Increasing concern regarding human impacts on the environment and the possibility that some human-induced changes in ecological systems may be irreversible has also focused attention on ways in which such changes can be assessed and, if possible, avoided. From the policy maker's perspective, the concern is not only in terms of the possible extent of these problems, but also the likelihood of their occurrence and the timeframe over which they may operate. In the context of global climate change, understanding the functioning of ecosystems, and how their health and performance can be measured and monitored over time are of critical importance, since these are linked inextricably with human health and well-being.
A considerable body of literature over the past decade has sought to define ecosystem health in practical terms. The majority of the definitions of ecosystem health concentrates exclusively on ecological aspects. For example, Costanza (1992) defines the term as follows: ‘An ecological system is healthy and free from “distress syndrome” if it is stable and sustainable – that is, if it is active and maintains its organisation and autonomy over time and is resilient to stress.’