Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 28, 2011
Publication Date: August 22, 2011
Citation: Karl, J.W. 2011. Turning information into knowledge for rangeland management. Rangelands. 33(4):3-5. Interpretive Summary: The time that we live in is often referred to as the Information Age. We are surrounded by information, and sometimes bombarded with it. But despite the incredible volume of available information us it never seems to be enough, or of the right type, or at the right time. This conundrum has highlighted the fact that information and knowledge are two very different things, and while in some cases we might be drowning in the former, the latter is in short supply. The knowledge that supports natural resource management has traditionally resided with the decision-maker, and has been passed down through formal education as well as on-the-job (or perhaps more appropriately "on-the-land") training. However, we are seeing high turnover in rangeland management staff coupled with an unprecedented rate of new and competing uses and threats to rangeland resources. An alternative system for storing and sharing knowledge is urgently needed. While focusing on capturing the knowledge of land managers, whose collective knowledge is at greatest risk of being lost, this system must also integrate scientific knowledge, and new knowledge that will increasingly be generated using the tools described in this special issue of Rangelands. These papers represent only a small portion of the many new tools and techniques that are now available for creating actionable information for rangeland management. The challenge now is to start integrating these technologies into knowledge systems.
Technical Abstract: The kind of knowledge system that will be capable of meeting the needs of rangeland managers will evolve as scientists, technology specialists, managers, and biologists find ways to integrate the ever expanding array of information systems and tools to meet their needs. The tools and techniques highlighted in this issue of Rangelands were selected because they have immediate application, and illustrate the various types of tools necessary to support management decision making. The challenge is figuring out how to combine such new tools and knowledge sources in a way that increases understanding of rangeland systems and promotes good decision making.