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The Natural World

We cannot survive without the natural world. Despite this, we are creating unprecedented changes to our planet at an alarming rate. Altering the earth’s climate is leading to compromised oceans, radical weather patterns, extinction of species, droughts, floods, and fires--some of these effects are well-known already. At the same time, awareness is growing that we are not separate and distinct from the natural world. We imperil the planet’s health at our own risk.

Cross-cutting concepts can spur new thinking about how to how to preserve and restore nature.  Conservation biology, ecosystem services, resilience thinking—each of these ideas began in an Island Press book. Applying them has changed the way we think about and protect nature, grow our food, and maintain healthy ecosystems. This type of interdisciplinary thinking, and the new approaches that it generates, will help us address our most urgent environmental challenges. We don’t have time to waste.

Confronting Climate Change

Scientists have been warning for years that human activity is altering our climate. In the past century, global temperatures have risen an average of 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, a trend that is expected to accelerate. We are only just beginning to acknowledge and examine the effects of climate change, such as shifting seasons, reconfigured ocean currents, higher sea levels, and unpredictable rainfall. 

Island Press books bring new insights to topics like adaptive management and present holistic approaches for managing everything from livestock to forests to grasslands in order to sequester carbon, increase chemical-free agricultural output, and make landscapes more inviting to wildlife in the face of rapid change.

Protecting Species and Ecosystems

The exact impacts that we will feel as a result of altering our planet’s climate are difficult to predict.  What is for certain is that change is coming—in fact, it is already here—and that as best we can, we need to plan for it. This includes changing our approach to biodiversity protection and conservation. The central concept guiding conservation efforts over the past century has been preserving “naturalness” in protected areas—but how does that have relevance today, as habitat fragmentation, altered disturbance regimes, pollution, and invasive species become more pronounced and more pervasive?

Island Press books have helped upend thinking about conservation, resilience, and restoration, presenting new paradigms and new approaches to managing resources, one that embraces human and natural systems as complex entities continually adapting through cycles of change.