Sustainability and management of the environment
'Sustainability' is a term that has become very popular in the media and in academic circles in recent years. It was not widely used before the late 1980s. This should be a warning that it describes a concept that is socially determined rather than something that exists as a self-evident given. It is now fashionable as much because of the context in which the term has been invented as the content of what is imagined by it. It may seem unscientific to approach 'sustainability' in this manner, at the very time that a more analytical focus is needed on something apparently so fundamental. It is, however, the purpose of this chapter to place in context the science required, as well as to suggest that science is always prosecuted in pursuit of something. In the case of 'sustain ability', the identity of that something is both more elusive and more important than might at first sight seem obvious. In fact, there is nothing obvious about sustainability. What does the term mean? What is it that is to be sustained? Why is it to be sustained? This chapter attempts some answers to these questions through the construction of a model of sustainability. In turn, some understanding of the questions is essential to answering another: how do we determine the appropriateness of particular management strategies?