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carrying capacity

  The optimum population of plants, animals or, more controversially, people that can be sustained on a given area of land (see also Malthusian model). The concept originated in ecological studies to refer to the numbers of different species compatible with particular environmental conditions. It has become a staple, but much criticized, tool of environmental management for quantifying the sustainable limit of different land-use practices. Geographers have used it, for example, to gauge the numbers of livestock or crop plants that can be supported by a given farming system, or the number of visitors compatible with protecting species or habitats in a designated area. (cf. ecology; sustainable development.) (SW)

Reference Warren, A. 1995: Changing understandings of African pastoralism and the nature of environmental paradigms. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 193-203.



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Other Terms : social reproduction | peasant | visualization
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