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Authors: Stinner D.H., B.R. Stinner, and E. Martsolf
Publisher: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 62(2): 199-213.
Type: Journal Article
Publication Date: 1997
Status: Status
Biodiversity as an Organizing Principle in Agroecosystem Management: Case Studies of Holistic Resource Management Practitioners in the USA



Holistic Resource Management (HRM) is a process of goal setting, decision making and monitoring which integrates social, ecological and economic factors. Biodiversity enhancement is a fundamental principle in HRM and students are taught that biodiversity is the foundation of sustainable profit. In the HRM process, practitioners develop a holistic goal which includes: (1) quality of life values, (2) forms of production to support those values, and (3) landscape planning, which should protect and enhance biodiversity and support ecosystem processes of succession, energy flow, hydrological and nutrient cycling. We present an overview of the HRM model and results of interviews with 25 HRM farmers and ranchers from across the USA in which perceptions and experiences with respect to the role of biodiversity in the sustainability of their operations were explored. An ethnographic approach and qualitative research methods were used in the interviews. While only 9% of the interviewees reported thinking about biodiversity in the context of their operations before being exposed to HRM, now all of them think biodiversity is important to the sustainability of their famrs and ranches. Of the people interviewed, 95% perceived increases in biodiversity (particularly with respect to plants) and 80% perceived increase in profits from their land since HRM began influencing their decisions. In addition to perceiving increases in biodiversity, all of the interviewees reported observing indications of positive changes in some of the ecosystem processes on their farms or ranches. In addition, 91% of the interviewees reported improvements in their quality of life because of changes in their time budgets. Three of the interviewees who had quantitative data on changes in numbers of plant species and economic indicators are discussed in detail. We conclude that holistic management approaches like HRM are worthy of further study.


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