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Ecosystem management attempts to provide a holistic framework for natural resource managers on public lands. Going beyond a focus on individual wildlife species and natural processes, it encourages managers to consider ecological processes that extend across the boundaries of their own unit's boundaries.

The term is attributed to Riley McClelland, a U.S. National Park Service ranger whose 1968 master's thesis proposed ecosystems as a unifying management concept. The idea reflects intellectual currents in the 1960s and early 1970s, and new laws required managers to consider the environmental consequences of their actions.

In addition to preserving biodiversity of species, ecosystem management focuses on ecological processes such as energy cycling, community succession, and disturbance ecology. The very concept of preservation has had to adapt to the role of ecological ...

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