College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Technology

What is Ecotechnology?

A technology is a method for solving a problem. It consists of a set of plans for achieving a specific goal that has been developed over time through experimentation. Thus, in the simplest sense, a technology is a form of information but the term also refers to actual systems that have been built to provide useful work for society.

An ecotechnology is a class of technology that includes a living ecosystem as part of the method for solving a problem. In this context the ecosystem consists of an interacting set of “wild” or natural species that are allowed to self organize within specified boundary conditions in order to function as a part of the solution to a problem. An ecotechnology is therefore a hybrid system with a non-living part that is designed by humans and a living part (the ecosystem) that self-designs.  These kinds of systems are described as being the product of ecological engineering. Examples are treatment wetlands, rain gardens, vegetation used for erosion control and algal production systems (such as the Algal Turf Scrubber™) used for water quality management.

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