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The 2nd Interface Between Ecology and Land Development Conference was held in association with Earth Day 1997, five years after the first Interface Conference. Rapid population growth in California has intensified the inevitable conflict between land development and preservation of natural ecosystems. Sustainable development requires wise use of diminishing natural resources and, where possible, restoration of damaged landscapes. These Earth Week Celebrations brought together resource managers, scientists, politicians, environmental consultants, and concerned citizens in an effort to improve the communication necessary to maintain our natural biodiversity, ecosystem processes and general quality of life.
As discussed by our keynote speaker, Michael Soule, the best predictor of habitat loss is population growth and nowhere is this better illustrated than in California. As urban perimeters expand, the interface between wildlands and urban areas increases. Few problems are more vexing than how to manage the fire prone ecosystems indigenous to California at this urban interface. Today resource managers face increasing challenges of dealing with this problem and the lead-off section of the proceedings considers both the theoretical basis for making decisions related to prescribed burning and the practical application.
Habitat fragmentation is an inevitable consequence of development patterns with significant impacts on animal and plant populations. Managers must be increasingly resourceful in dealing with problems of fragmentation and the often inevitable consequences, including susceptibility to invasive oganisms. One approach to dealing with fragmentation problems is through careful landplanning. California is the national leader in the integration of conservation and economics. On Earth Day 1991, Governor Pete Wilson presented an environmental agenda that promised to create between land owners and environmentalists, agreements that would guarantee the protection of -endangered species and out of this grew the pioneering initiative, known as the Natural Communities Conservation Planning (NCCP) program.
California's vast expanse of seemingly endless resources has traditionally been viewed as justification for abusive land use practices. The modem day recognition that resources are finite has led to greater concern, not only for conserving what is left, but for restoring abused landscapes. Ecological restoration is a new science devoted to returning disturbed environments to a semblance of their 'pristine' state. Based on principles of 'revegetation,' restoration goes far beyond simple replanting, rather the ambition of ecological restoration is to return landscapes to functioning ecosystems and is the focus of the last section.
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USGS Numbered Series
2nd interface between ecology and land development in California
Western Ecological Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey,