Sustainable Resource Management
to achieving our environmental mission is the concept of
sustainability. That is: using resources in a manner that meets our
present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs. To do so, we must foster thriving human
communities rooted in ecological integrity, economic strength, and
social and cultural integration.
International’s Principles for Sustainable Resource Management set forth
the ideas and types of activities that Audubon International considers
critical to help us move forward toward more sustainable patterns of
land use and sustainable resource management. They were first developed
by our staff in the 1990s and revised in 2005, based on fifteen years of
working with communities, land managers, owners, partner organizations,
environmental experts, and numerous citizens.
sustainability cannot happen overnight, of course, but must depend on
many small steps, collaborative and individual efforts, and political
and social will. The principles offer guidance for taking those steps
and beginning a journey toward a more sustainable future.
I. Building a Foundation for Sustainability-
II. The Principles
Principles for Sustainable Resource Management
Revised February 2005,
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I. Building a
Foundation for Sustainability
Biological diversity – defined broadly as the
spectacular diversity of life on Earth – is key to the ultimate health
and survival of humans and our environment. Preserving that diversity
demands that we protect and conserve natural resources, on which all
Sustainable resource management,
which includes sustainable development, entails using natural
resources in ways beneficial to human beings, while maintaining their
availability to support biological diversity and continuing human use in
the future. Sustainability can be the hallmark of the coming years –
if we choose to embrace it over current patterns of consumption and
development that pay little heed to the requirements of future
generations of life in all forms.
Audubon International’s view of sustainable
resource management, then, rests on these fundamental concepts:
resource management strives to ensure that the effects of our
actions now maintain or even enhance, rather than diminish, the
quality of life in our environment for future generations.
resource management fosters natural resource conservation and
continued proper functioning of healthy ecosystems.
resource management promotes production, consumption, and waste
management practices that allow us to keep resources available for
resource management requires short-term and long-term
decision-making that aims to protect or enhance watersheds, plants,
wildlife, human life, and our economic and social systems for the
benefit of future generations.
These concepts should be articulated and embraced
by landowners and developers at the inception of any land use
development and adopted by everyone associated with the project. In the
case of development of a community, they should be passed along to all
who will live, work, and play there after it is built.
II. Principles for
Sustainable Resource Management
International’s principles form a philosophical foundation by which a
community, as well as organizations, families, and individuals within
it, may work toward a sustainable future. To that end, Audubon
International urges that local and global communities:
management practices that have the greatest positive impact on plant
and wildlife species, water, and the ecosystems that sustain life.
Strive to use
resources that are most easily renewed.
Strive to eliminate
or reduce the use of resources that are difficult or impossible to
activities that result in identifying new resources and technologies
and enhance our current resource base in ways that will maximize
positive impacts on the overall quality of life and the environment.
activities and practices that conserve water and protect or enhance
water quality on a local and global basis.
activities, practices, and land uses that support ecosystems that
maintain and enhance biodiversity.
geographic and ecological contexts in which our actions take place,
and at the same time strive to manage resources within the natural
limitations and opportunities defined by ecosystems and geographic
These principles are intended to serve, preferably, a community as a
whole as it evolves, providing an educational and philosophical
foundation, as well as a living guide, for all those who work, live, or
recreate in the community. Consequently, in the case of a new community
these principles should be displayed throughout the community as a joint
commitment between those who build it and those who live in it. The
following examples of resource management activities demonstrate how the
principles for sustainable resource management can be applied to current
and future resource management decisions.
Site Specific Assessment
Before land-use changes take place, it is crucial
to understand the characteristics of the site subject to proposed
changes. A comprehensive site survey includes:
geographic and topographic features and demographics of the area.
area’s unique ecological and biological resources, to protect and
area’s physical attributes, such as geology, mineral resources,
hydrology, soil types, wind patterns, and sunshine patterns, to
provide a basis, in conjunction with other site assessment data, for
environmentally sound choices on whether to develop the site, types
of suitable development, suitable power supplies, etc.
of archeological, natural, historical, or cultural significance in
the area, to protect and conserve them.
uses in the vicinity, to provide a basis for assessing compatibility
of proposed changes and uses.
proposed areas of change and establishing parameters for future
changes beyond those areas.
Sustainable resource management entails careful attention to the
wildlife habitat of an area or region. Managing land in a
habitat-sensitive way includes:
ecologically sensitive areas from all degrading impacts.
local wildlife populations by degrading food or water sources,
shelter from predators or weather, or breeding habitat.
Not posing threats
to species directly or indirectly through increased air or water
minimizing increases of ambient noise levels in the area during and
following changes in land use.
migratory species’ access to habitual routes, food and water
sources, and breeding grounds.
corridors and greenspace that will allow for the movement of plants
and animals among habitat areas.
Sustainable resource management should emphasize
landscaping with a variety of materials and resources native to an area,
and maintaining them in a natural condition. Natural landscaping
Except for social
purpose areas such as agricultural lands, recreational use areas,
and work areas, preserving or enhancing species of vegetation native
to the natural region and, to the extent practical, removing species
of vegetation not native to that region.
Maximizing the size
and number of natural or naturalized patches within the area and
maximizing the use of natural or naturalized corridors to tie those
adding species to establish a wide variety of plants native to the
enhancing a variety of different types of habitat, such as forest,
wetland, streamsides, pond margins, and meadows and grasslands.
enhancing a variety of vertical layers of plants, such as canopy and
understory trees, shrubs, and ground cover.
standing trees, fallen trees, logs, and vegetative litter, such as
fallen branches, twigs, and leaves.
pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or irrigation in natural or
naturalized areas, patches, or corridors.
Water Conservation and Water Quality Protection
Water is vital to all life, yet it is one of our most misused,
mismanaged, and misunderstood resources. We make deserts bloom year
round and have expanded populations in area that are running out of
water. Good water conservation and water quality protection techniques
Using a rainwater
collection or gray water system for watering grounds, flushing
toilets, etc., and otherwise recapturing and reusing water
usage by monitoring it and by installing low-flow devices.
sustainable yields for the lowest flow periods of water supply and
designing to accommodate those periods.
Maximizing use of
native and naturalized plants and turf that are biologically
appropriate for the natural region, to avoid or minimize use of
irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides.
and maintaining irrigation systems to use only the minimum water
needed, only where needed.
minimizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, avoiding their use
entirely near water bodies, and storing, handling, and disposing of
them in ways that will not result in contamination to water bodies.
fertilizers, where fertilization is necessary.
drainage to water from areas where fertilizers or pesticides are
used, and maintaining vegetative buffer strips along the margins of
water bodies to filter fertilizers, pesticides, other contaminants,
The first goal of waste management should be not to generate waste. We
must rethink how we purchase and consume goods, to reduce waste
generation as much as possible in the first place. To the extent that
waste is generated, more sustainable waste management measures include:
reusing solid or liquid wastes, including hazardous wastes, whenever
monitoring and assessing how much solid and liquid wastes are being
generated, with a view to further reduction of generation.
non-recyclable wastes in an environmentally sensitive manner.
reviewing waste reduction strategies and recycling methods used.
capital, low maintenance alternatives for wastewater treatment
Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources
Nothing short of weaning ourselves from fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural
gas) and nuclear power will be sustainable. In any event, sustainable
energy strategies include:
consumption through conservation and use of energy efficient
technologies in all sectors of the economy, including industry,
agriculture, service provision, commercial buildings and residences,
Emphasizing use of:
Wave and tide
power, particularly small-scale or low-head, run-of-the-river
power at existing dams.
non-fossil, plant-derived fuels, such as ethanol.
Measures to promote more sustainable resource management in
availability of public transportation in developed areas.
energy-efficient public transportation available in development of
new urban and suburban areas.
low-impact transportation by providing sidewalks, walking trails,
and bicycle paths.
sidewalks, walking trails, and bicycle paths instead of powered
cross-country transportation of goods by diversifying local sources.
infrastructure changes that support the use of more energy-efficient
and cleaner burning fuel technologies in vehicles (such as electric
battery charging stations, compressed natural gas refueling
energy-efficient and cleaner burning fuel technologies (such as
electric, hybrid electric, and compressed natural gas) in public
transportation systems, government and private fleets of trucks and
automobiles, and individual private vehicles.
Greenspace and Corridors
Urban parks, forested zones, native grassland areas, and stream
corridors reaching into urbanized areas are important elements of
sustainability. In this respect, sustainable resource management
preserving greenspaces and corridors of high wildlife habitat and
water quality value within cities and other communities.
corridors that connect areas and allowing for wildlife movement
through and across property boundaries and between adjacent areas.
Providing access to
appropriate greenspaces for educational and recreational
Sustainable resource management in agriculture includes:
agricultural production areas.
food self-sufficiency to the extent possible.
efficiency of low input farming methods.
irrigation and drainage systems to minimize water use and protect
livestock management with food crop and vegetative management to
improve soil fertility.
Encouraging the use
of integrated pest management (IPM) practices at all farms and
Promoting the use
of greenhouse farming.
Promoting the use
Improved design of individual buildings is essential for sustainable
resource management. Everything from lighting to composting food scraps
must be considered. Sustainability in building design includes:
energy efficient design approaches for:
handling and recycling programs.
landscaping practices that minimize maintenance, such as employing
native or naturalized plants.
materials that will not become hazardous waste or impossible to
dispose of in an environmentally safe manner at the ends of their
Beyond the specific design of a structure, there is the issue of how
proper design and planning put together an entire sustainable community.
Where does the food come from? Where do people work and play? How are
the sustainable patterns of behavior applied at the broader level of the
community as a whole? Sustainable resource management in community
design, whether development of an entirely new one or planned expansion
of an existing one, includes:
Protecting the area’s sustainable resources.
Encouraging low impact transportation, like walking, bicycling,
Working with the contours of the land to avoid excessive mechanical
land and soil movement, such as blasting and filling.
Clustering structures, to facilitate maximizing open space.
To the greatest extent possible, clustering residences and
commercial facilities necessary to support them, such as groceries and
shops, within distances where they are reasonably accessible to each
other by low impact transportation, like walking or bicycling.
Providing recycling and composting centers; and encouraging
provision of exchange [and reuse stations, for items such as used
clothing, appliances, and house wares.
Providing infrastructure, such as charging or refueling stations,
for forms of transportation that rely on alternative sources of energy.
Providing a multi-purpose community / environmental education
Minimizing the use of impermeable surfaces for drives and parking
Continually looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to
“re-claim” previously degraded environments.