The ecosystem approach, also known as the systemic or ecological approach, is a theoretical and methodological perspective that considers living organisms as part of a complex system called an ecosystem. This approach emphasizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of the different components of an ecosystem, including living organisms (such as plants, animals and microorganisms) and their physical environment (such as soil, water, air and climatic conditions).
The ecosystem approach is based on the fundamental concept that organisms and the environment in which they live are closely interrelated and mutually influence each other. A change in one component of the ecosystem can have cascading effects on other components. For example, an increase in average temperature due to climate change can affect the distribution of plants, which in turn can affect the availability of food for the animals that feed on those plants.
The ecosystem approach considers the ecosystem as a whole and tries to understand the ecological processes, the interactions between the different species and the dynamics of the flow of energy and matter within the ecosystem. This approach can be used to study the impacts of human activities on the environment, predict the consequences of environmental perturbations and develop sustainable management strategies for natural resources.
In summary, the ecosystem approach is “a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources which, by applying scientific methods, promotes the conservation of resources and their sustainable use in a fair and equitable way”. The ecosystem approach recognizes that human beings, with their cultural diversity, are an integral part of many ecosystems.
Furthermore, the ecosystem approach places emphasis on understanding ecosystems as complex interconnected systems, recognizing that actions taken in one area can have cascading effects on other parts of the ecosystem. It promotes a holistic and integrated view of the natural environment, thus contributing to the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.