Environmental Management Strategic Theme: Sustainability
Author: Theresa Lynn Ford
Created: Friday, 1/28/2005 11:26 AM

Sustainability is the idea of using a resource without destroying the ability to replenish that resource (naturally or with management). When a resource is harvested, as in the case of forests and fisheries, an effort must be made not to take more than can be grown to replace what was taken. This is the idea of a sustainable yield. A sustainable ecosystem looks at how the different parts of an environment work together to maintain equilibrium. (Wright, 2005, p. 8-9)

If humans could exist without interrupting the Earth's sustainable ecosystems and live within the confines of sustainable development (not stealing resources from future generations), we would have a sustainable society. We do not currently have a sustainable society. Sustainable ecosystems are being destroyed by polluting, over-harvesting, and destruction of their parts. If we do not become a sustainable society, we risk our own destruction or at the very least, a very miserable existence. (Wright, 2005, p. 9-10)

One of the things we can do toward becoming a sustainable society is wield the power of sustainable ecologies, that is, use the natural life cycles to our advantage. For example, we can compost to create soil for plants which we then eat. We can use constructed wetlands to process our sewage. Each year we gain more knowledge about how different ecological cycles function and we should be able to use more of these processes to become a sustainable society.


Wright, R. (2005). Environmental Science, Ninth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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