Definition and Understanding of  Ecosystem Management is a confusing mixture of good forest ecology principles and integrated or multiple use forest management. Advocates of ecosystem management analyze and describe ecosystem functioning in ways that recognize the need to maintain natural composition and structures of forest ecosystems from the landscape level to the stand or patch level.

However, while providing good information about forest functioning, practitioners of ecosystem management also continue to advocate methods and levels of timber extraction that degrade forest ecosystem composition, structures, and functioning necessary to maintain fully functioning forests through time. Conventional clearcutting and tree plantations are regular components of ecosystem management.

In contrast, ecologically responsible timber management is ecosystem-based, which means that the character (i.e. composition, structure, and functioning) and condition of ecosystems determine what types of human use can be carried out and in what ways and at what level of intensity these uses can occur while ensuring the maintenance of fully functioning forests at all scales through time.

Conventional timber management approaches described above all utilize concepts oriented to exploiting natural forests for timber and to producing crops of trees in short time cycles. Most of these concepts have little or no application in ecologically responsible timber management, because conventional approaches are focused on timber, while ecosystembased, ecologically responsible approaches are focused on forests.
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