chapter  1
The Concept of Integrity
Pages 12

The word ‘integrity’ is used in many contexts, from the integrity of an ecosystem or a database to the integrity of a person. In common usage the notion that ties these uses together is that of an uncorrupted whole. The ecosystem has integrity when it is unpolluted and uncorrupted by factors alien to its well-being and fl ourishing. Alien factors are those that are inconsistent with the overall purpose and development of the ecosystem. These factors may be external or internal. The introduction of an open cut coalmine in an old-growth forest is the introduction of an alien element and would clearly have an effect on the existing ecosystem. On the face of it the continued well-being of the ecosystem is in hazard. Whether or not this is an acceptable hazard is another matter. Not all ecosystems are in a state of dynamic equilibrium and may contain within themselves a factor that is inconsistent with their continued well-being. Integrity of an ecosystem is thus, on many occasions, an assessment of an hoped-for outcome rather than an existing state of affairs. Integrity in this context is unlikely to fulfi l one hundred per cent of the requirements, and the term is assigned on the basis of meeting suffi cient requirements.