New wine and old wineskins? Novel ecosystems and conceptual change
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The concept of novel ecosystems (CNE) has been proposed as a way to recognize the extent and value of ecosystems that have been irreversibly transformed by human activity. In this sense, the CNE is realistic about ongoing changes that humans are causing and pragmatic about how to manage them now and in the future. It also provides a dramatic contrast with prevailing conceptions, particularly related to invasive species. Although the CNE has recently been subject to critique, existing critiques do not appear to seriously engage with the extent of anthropogenic change to the world’s ecosystems. Here, I seek to provide a deeper, philosophical and constructive critique, specifically arguing that the usefulness of the CNE is limited in the following three ways: i) it is too static; ii) it is too vague; and iii) it is too dualistic. Although the CNE provides some conceptual advance (‘new wine’), some of its conceptualization and packaging weakly support this advance (‘old wineskins’), so I consider some ways to further develop it, in part to encourage more widespread recognition and appreciation of novel ecosystems.
- RESEARCH: CIB Associates