I've had a lot of interesting discussions regarding the model for strong sustainability used in Chapter 6. It was taken from the Forest Service 2010 National Report on Sustainable Forests and developed by Maureen Hart from Sustainable Measures. I thought this would be a great topic to start a discussion on. What are your thoughts on this model?

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one LivingAssessment editor said that the more common definitions of weak vs strong sustainability "...have to do with the degree to which one believes that financial capital is substitutable for natural capital." 

that got me thinking....

Some key points from the report to think about:

  • When influences and interactions between the threes spheres of the triple bottom line are properly accounted for, natural resource decisions have a better chance of achieving sustainability.
  • Diagram reflects a shift in thinking from the three realms as intersecting yet separate parts of a system, to all three realms being interconnected and interdependent.
  • This model reflects the understanding that the environmental realm is the foundation of strong sustainability because the environment provides natural goods and services that cannot be obtained through any other means.

  • The concept holds that opportunities for making social and economic progress must be pursued within environmental realities.

I've been thinking a lot about the economy, society, and the environment and how they interact. As I read most of the planning documents, including the Draft NOI and Proposed Action, I feel like the language, if graphically illustrated, would have the environment with a fence around it protecting it from the economy and society. Economy and society would only get to overlap with the environment when they can prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that they won't hurt the environment.

It is hard to change language and thinking to understand and act with the three as the "triple bottom line."  There are areas where there is substantial room for economic and social activity to grow in the forest environment without adverse effect. There are other areas where the forest is already overburdened with social and economic activity.

The balance between the three is difficult to find, but I am hopeful that the philosophy of interaction between the three will continue to grow toward one where sustainability of all three will be the goal.

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