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Glossary of terms for managing wholes

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wagon wheel - A layout consisting of wedge-shaped paddocks surrounding a central water point.

Related terms: grazing cell

water cycle - The process by which water cycles through the ecosystem. Water evaporating from oceans, plants, and soil forms clouds and returns to the surface as rain. This water recharges ground water, fills rivers, and eventually returns to the sea.

When the water cycle is healthy, rain soaks into soils where it either remains available to plants in the root zone, or recharges groundwater that feeds wells, seeps, springs, and streams. Where the water cycle is unhealthy, rain generally runs off the land, causing flash floods, or evaporates from bare soil. In some areas of Australia it sinks in too fast and raises the water table, bringing salt into the root zone.

Related terms: mineral cycle, energy flow, and community dynamics

Related pages: "Fundamental ecosystem processes and how they work" (articles), "The Great Salinity Debate" on Landholders for the Environment website

watershed - catchment

weed - A plant growing where someone doesn't want it. Generally people notice "weed problems" when ecosystem function gets damaged, and the succession level falls to the point where desirable plants have trouble reproducing. "Weeds" then move in as part of nature's process for healing damaged land.

If we kill weeds, that lowers the succession level even further. Desirable plants have a harder time reproducing, and weeds gain a bigger advantage.

If instead we create conditions that favor desirable plants (using managed grazing, adding organic matter, etc.), succession will soon rise too high for weeds, and the plants we want will gain the advantage.

Related terms: forb, cheatgrass

Related pages: "Grazing management for healthy soils" "How can grazing heal land?"

whole - An arrangement or pattern of smaller elements, whose properties cannot all be predicted from the elements that comprise it. Atoms combine to form molecules that have new properties. These molecules develop new behaviors when combined into living cells. Cells combine to form organisms, and a few of those organisms create web pages like this one.

Related terms: holism, emergence

If you take patterns as the ultimate structure of the world, if it is arrangements and not stuff that make up the world, the new concept leads you to the concept of wholes. Wholes have no stuff, they are arrangements. Science has come round to the view that the world consists of patterns, and I construe that to be that the world consists of wholes.

-- Jan Christian Smuts

whole under management - The whole managed under one holistic goal. A whole might be a company, company division, ranch, family, or individual. Or it might be a community, river catchment, region, nation, or even international. It includes the key stakeholders and decision-makers, plus the resources they have available. Wholes can contain other wholes that have their own separate goals -- an individual in a company or a farm in a region, for instance.

Related terms: Holistic Management

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Suggestions for terms or definitions? Email us (opens web form).

Posted 23 April 2003