SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH FOR RANGELANDS John E. Mitchell Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Presentation on theme: "RESEARCH ON RANGELAND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT. SUSTAINABLE RANGELAND MANAGEMENT Management of rangeland ecosystems to provide desired mixes of benefits."— Presentation transcript:
SUSTAINABLE RANGELAND MANAGEMENT Management of rangeland ecosystems to provide desired mixes of benefits to the present generation without compromising their ability to provide benefits for future generations.
A GREAT, BUT NEGLECTED, RESOURCE: 3/4ths of entire range area has declined. 95% of public domain has declined. Only 36 million out of 728 million acres is in thoroughly satisfactory condition. Western ranches depend upon public lands forage LIVESTOCK GRAZING: A DOMINANT USE
Previous national assessments used range condition as the sole measure of rangeland health or sustainability. In the 48 states, only 46 percent of the rangelands are in fair or good condition. Note: Other categories are poor and very poor.
Range condition: BLM lands Excellent4% Good30% Fair41% Poor18% Forest Service lands PNC15% Late seral31% Mid-seral38% Early seral15% Non-federal lands Excellent4% Good31% Fair47% Poor17%
2000 Assessment On NFS lands: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Meeting FPMO48% Moving towards FPMO39% Neither meeting nor Moving towards FPMO13%
Grain = Resolving power of data. Grain determines smallest entities that can be found in data. Extent = highest level that can be accessed. If size of entity is larger than data (spatial, temporal), then associated attributes cannot be observed. Scale in Ecological Observations
The larger the system, the longer the cycle time of unperturbed behavior. From top to bottom of a hierarchy, there is a continuum of natural frequencies. FREQUENCY OF BEHAVIOR -Systems have particular characteristic frequencies. -Monitoring must accommodate frequency of a systems scale.
1991 Ecological Society of America Sustainable Biosphere Initiative Focuses on role of ecology in wise management of Earths resources. Calls for increases in fundamental research in three areas: -Global change -Biological diversity -Sustainability of ecological systems At broadest scale:Effects of land use patterns Feedbacks between ecosystem & atmospheric processes
FORUM SCIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY Ecological Applications Vol. 3 No. 4 Pages 545-589 1993 -Based upon paper in Science on resource exploitation. Ludwig et al. 260:17, 36. 1993. -Sustainability is a vague and elusive notion. -Ultimate goal:Leave to the future the option or capacity to be as well off as we are. -Sustainability requires attention to the linkages among physical, biological, and socioeconomic systems, and to the interface between science and policy.
RESEARCH GOALS FOR 21 st CENTURY - Provide water for multiple uses. -Develop environmentally-compatible, efficient livestock management systems. -Maintain and enhance riparian systems. -Develop vegetation management schemes that ensure ecosystem integrity -Provide wildlife habitat for a wide array of native species. -Understand the needs and direction of society in relation to rangelands. HIGH-PRIORITY RESEARCH FOR HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 1993 Symposium – Research Affairs Committee, SRM
Evaluating Rangeland Sustainability SRM Task Group on Unity and Concepts in Terms Rangelands 17(3):85-92 1995 Focused on the site level; i.e. rangeland condition and trend. Soil is the basic resource. Sought unity in terminology and methodology. Ecological sites Site conservation thresholds Site Conservation rating: sustainable and unsustainable Desired plant community
FORUM ECONOMIC GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY Ecological Applications Vol. 6 No. 1 Pages 1-32 1996 Based upon a paper in Science on economic growth and environment. Arrow et al. 268:520-521. 1995. -Relationship between economic growth and environmental quality? -Ecosystems limited in capacity to absorb disturbance. Signals may not allow anticipation of irreversible changes. -Basic ecosystem services are not substitutable: Clean air, pure water, decompose wastes, recovering from disturbance, CO 2 balance. -Indices must be intuitively obvious and fit needs of decision-makers.
RMRS STUDY Assessed 67 Montreal Process indicators. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Applicability to rangelands Which ones are important Availability of data and monitoring capability Needed research
SRR Validates/develops indicators and measurement protocols. NRI / FIA / etc. Rangeland monitoring systems incorporate new protocols. NATL ASSESSMENTS Monitors trends of SRR indicators. Are the indicators valid and useful? no yes 1 2 3
SOME COMMON DENOMINATORS 1.The concept of sustainability is not concise, but is important. There is agreement that it involves physical, biological, and socio-economic-political systems.
SOME COMMON DENOMINATORS 1.The concept of sustainability is not concise, but is important. There is agreement that it involves physical, biological, and socio-economic-political systems. 2.No Dow Jones of sustainable development or sustainability exists. Quantitative ecological and economic models are not adequate to address any measure of overall sustainability.
SOME COMMON DENOMINATORS 1.The concept of sustainability is not concise, but is important. There is agreement that it involves physical, biological, and socio-economic-political systems. 2.No Dow Jones of sustainable development or sustainability exists. Quantitative ecological and economic models are not adequate to address any measure of overall sustainability. 3.Sustainability indicators are hierarchical because the systems they monitor are subject to the principles of hierarchy theory.