The ecosystem approach requires adaptive management to deal with the complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems and the absence of complete knowedge or understanding of their functioning. Ecosystem processess are often non-linear and the outcome of such processes often shows time-lags. The following 12 principles of the ecosystem approach are complementary and interlinked:< Principle 1: The objectives of management of land, water and living resources are a matter of societal choice.
Principle 2: Management should be decentralized to the lowest appropriate level.
Principle 3: Ecosystem managers should consider the effects (actual or potential) of their activities on adjacent and other ecosystems.
Principle 4: Recognizing potential gains from management, there is usually a need to understand and manage the ecosystem in an economic context. Any such ecosystem-management programme should: (a) reduce those market distortions that adversely affect biological diversity; (b) align incentives to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; (c) internalise costs and benefits in the given ecosystem to the extent possible.
Principle 5: Conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning, in order to maintain ecosystem services, should be a priority target of the ecosystem approach.
Principle 6: Ecosystems must be managed within the limits of their functioning.
Principle 7: The ecosystem approach should be undertaken at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales.
Principle 8: Recognizing the varying temporal scales and lag-effects that characterise ecosystem processes, objectives for the ecosystem management should be set for the long term.
Principle 9: Management must recognize that change is inevitable.
Principle 10: The ecosystem approach should seek the appropriate balance between, and integration of, conservation and use of biological diversity.
Principle 11: The ecosystem approach should consider all forms of relevant information, including scientific and indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices.
Principle 12: The ecosystem approach should involve all relevant sectors of society and scientific discipline. [Convention on Biological Diversity, 2002 (Decision V/6)].