Submitted to: Society of Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2005
Publication Date: 2/5/2005
Citation: Brown, J., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Havstad, K.M., Svejar, A.J. 2005. Challenges in developing an ecological site description system. Society for Range Management 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show, February 5-11, 2005, Fort Worth, Texas. p. 193.
Interpretive Summary: No interpretive summary required.
Technical Abstract: The adoption and implementation of ecological site descriptions (ESDs) by federal land management and technical assistance agencies represents a major change in the way we describe, measure and report the results of rangeland management actions. While there has been significant progress to date in both the agency and academic communities, we have only begun the effort necessary to have an accessible, credible and understandable ESD system. Many of our original concepts of ESDs, tested by field applications, have been challenged. Structured, relevant hypotheses must be developed to excite and invite research. Outdated and inaccurate land classification schemes (soils, vegetation, climate etc.) unnecessarily limit the utility and application of ESDs. Integrating these multiple systems to achieve unity represents a substantial challenge, but ecosystem function must be the basis for organizing and interpreting information, regardless of intended application. One measure of any government information function can be measured by the level of use by the target audience. Accessibility to information and an ability to extract relevant, accurate answers to questions is not a simple matter, but organizing complex ecological information does not necessarily have to be complicated. Finally, and most importantly, insuring an accurate, responsive and accessible ESD system requires commitment on the part of both technical and bureaucratic staff. Technical staff must maintain the integrity of the ESD system from threats posed by short term political gain and bureaucratic staff must commit to using the system appropriately. All of these challenges can be met with the responsible use of information and resources.