Protecting the Still Functioning Ecosystem: The Case of the Prairie Pothole Wetlands


This Essay discusses the challenges presented by attempts to ensure consistency between agricultural production and ecosystem/biodiversity protection. Additionally, this Essay examines mechanisms for achieving ecosystem protection. Although the notion of a sustainable agriculture provides a backdrop for analysis, this phrase seems far too general to support a meaningful discussion of how we manage real-world agriculture “on the ground.” Therefore, this Essay emphasizes one geographic region and one major natural resource within that region: the “Prairie Pothole” systems of streams, headwaters, wetlands, glacial aquifers, and rivers of the north central United States. This Essay addresses the practical and basic issue of whether twenty-first century agriculture can be organized and managed so that it exists in harmony with surrounding ecosystems.


Ecosystem management, Sustainable development, Agriculture, Wetlands, Watersheds, Agricultural policy, Biodiversity, Environmental policy, Sustainable agriculture, Wetland conservation, United States



John H. Davidson (University of South Dakota)



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