The ecosystem approach is internationally approved as a management strategy to meet current changes in ecosystem function and services. It differs from other strategies by:
i) Inclusion of societal values to determine the appropriate level and trade-off between services maintained in ecosystems
ii) Reliance on science to guide decisions about maintenance of ecosystem services, set boundaries and thresholds, and to ensure that human activities comply with the dynamics of the ecosystem.
iii)Integrated planning by setting clear, long-tem objectives for the ecosystem (which transverse administrative and sectoral boundaries), and by implementing the proper policy instruments and monitoring tools to achieve these objectives.
iv) Adaptive management to ensure learning from policy and management actions, and to improve adaptability to ecosystem changes.
The implementation of the ecosystem approach to resource management requires understanding about stakeholder values, ecosystem dynamics and the management system. In Ecosystem Finnmark we focus on the structure and dynamics of pastoral tundra ecosystems in Norway, on the diversity of practices and values of reindeer herding families and on the complexity of the management system. The design allows us to combine the social and natural sciences to improve implementation of the ecosystem approach in the northernmost ecosystems of Norway.