Presentation on theme: "Status of Social Criteria and Indicators Mark W. Brunson Dept. of Forest Resources Utah State University."— Presentation transcript:
Status of Social Criteria and Indicators Mark W. Brunson Dept. of Forest Resources Utah State University
Introduction Sustainability has biophysical, economic, and social components In range, we know least about social component Ecological sustainability without social sustainability cannot succeed. Examples: Repeated kills of Mexican wolves in U.S. Southwest Lawsuits block chaining to enhance post-fire rehabilitation Opposition to chemicals impedes weed control efforts
Process Socio-economic working group reviews both categories of C&I Disciplines in group include economics, sociology, anthropology, social psychology, ecology, range Started with forest C&I but gradually shifting away Most industry-related indicators not relevant Forestry group missed important issues (e.g. land tenure) More specific focus on range-dependent communities
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Area and percent of rangeland managed to protect cultural and spiritual needs/values Describes extent to which management supports such values. E.g., Can people gain access to places offering spiritual benefits? Are there changes in protection given to cultural resources?
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Non-consumptive rangeland values Describes extent to which management supports values other than commodity outputs. E.g., Are there changes in the use of activities that tend to protect or diminish scenic quality? Are constituencies demanding protection of previously unrecognized values from rangelands?
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Area and percent of rangeland used for subsistence purposes Describes extent to which subsistence users retain access to food, fiber, shelter resources. E.g., Are rangelands managed to provide opportunities for harvesting piñon nuts, medicinal herbs, fence posts, etc.?
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Land tenure and ownership patterns (length of tenure, disposition of lands changing ownership) Extent to which changes occur in ownership, tract size, etc., which can affect sustainability. E.g., Are state trust lands being privatized, and if so do uses by new owners affect sustainability? Are ranches being fragmented? Aggregated?
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Extension and use of new/improved technologies related to range improvement, protection Extent to which state-of-the-art practices are being adopted and implemented. E.g., Are more/fewer acres being managed with appropriate rotational grazing systems? Are more/fewer riparian miles being fenced?
What do the social indicators tell us about sustainability? Viability and adaptability of social systems in range-dependent communities Extent to which changes in rangeland uses and conditions affect social conditions in rural, rangeland-dependent communities. E.g., Are changes in CRP acres linked to changes in hunting tourism that affect community social conditions? Does wilderness designation affect local jobless rates?
Challenges and opportunities: Community viability/adaptability We assume human communities are better off if rangelands are healthy, productive. But how? Is this always true? Is the converse always true? Rangeland cities (Las Vegas, SLC, Boise) are nations fastest-growing – what about sustainability? Ranch subdivision can break down ecosystems and social systems, but are new social systems unsustainable? As Great Plains are depopulated, is the result ecologically desirable but socially unsustainable?
Challenges and opportunities: Community viability/adaptability If appropriate index can be derived, data should be readily available since feds already measure: –Demographics: % pop. by age, gender; education levels; in- and out-migration –Community well-being: morbidity/mortality; poverty; water quality status; medical service availability –Govt./social services: property tax rates; social service enrollments per capita; disincorporation rates
Challenges and opportunities: Making sense of the numbers Unclear linkages – e.g., does change in subsistence uses mean rangelands less able to support them, or people have less need of them? Lack of appropriate reference conditions – e.g., how much rural poverty is sustainable? What is the optimal ranch ownership size?
Challenges and opportunities: national vs. county levels Problem: Large population centers skew data Growth in urban per-capita income can mask continued problems in rural areas Urban economic refugees affect social-services indicators independent of conditions in rural communities Solution?: Data gathered, reported at county level Sampling a subset of rangeland-dependent counties will produce more reliable indicators than totals or means But first, must identify what is a rangeland county
Conclusion This is a work-in-progress Unlike ecological data, lots of social data gathered Unlike ecological indicators, no ones really tried to link social indicators to rangeland health or integrity Research and evaluation critical to success