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Degrading Landscapes: Lessons from Palliative Care


Address correspondence to: Linda J. Kristjanson, Professor, School of Nursing & Public Health, Edith Cowan University, Churchlands Campus, Pearson Street, Churchlands, Western Australia 6018.


ABSTRACT Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. This paper presents a proposition that the principles of palliative care may offer a useful conceptual map that helps promote understanding of the degradation of landscapes and the decline of rural communities from an ecosystem management perspective. Landscape reorganization by humans for food and other production requires considerable inputs of energy and effort. Current trends of landscape degradation indicate that human endeavors have resulted in the loss of functional landscapes with a concurrent decline in ecosystem services. The argument can be made that, in cases where ecosystem degradation is extensive, the landscape may be terminally ill and in need of palliative care. The fundamental principles and components of palliative care are described and questions are posed regarding the extent to which palliative care principles and components challenge and extend current land management philosophies and practices.