The Ecosystem Approach

On a management level, development strategies, which consider the need to protect ecosystem functioning, are termed “ecosystem approaches”. Within such an approach, one particular resource, activity or set of environmental goods and services cannot be considered separately from others. Thus, “the ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way...” (CBD 2000). Ecosystem approaches are applicable at all scales, from the local to the global level.

In the context of flood management, an ecosystem approach has to strive for balancing the pressures of socio-economic development on flood plains with the preservation of the river or wetland ecosystem in order to sustain respective ecosystem services.


The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 1998) has defined 12 principles of the ecosystem approach. The table on the next page provides an overview of these principles and their relationship with IFM principles.

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CBD 1998

CBD 2000

Figure: DEFRA