Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/11/2006
Publication Date: 6/28/2007
Citation: Walter, T., Dosskey, M., Khanna, M., Miller, J., Tomer, M.D., Wiens, J. 2007. The science of targeting within landscapes and watersheds to improve conservation effectiveness. In: Schnepf, M., Cox, C., editors. Managing Landscaping for Environmental Quality: Strengthening the Science Base. Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, IA. p. 63-89.
Technical Abstract: Not all parts of the landscape are equal with respect to ecological and hydrological sensitivity or with respect to their ability to “buffer” the impacts of human activities. Targeted land management focuses conservation practices that protect or enhance environmental quality on those parts of the landscape (or at times) where (and when) they will produce the best results and available funds will have the greatest benefits. Although the scientific underpinnings are generally well developed (and improving) for many targeted land management practices and strategies, it is still difficult to predict system-wide affects on environmental quality due to implementing and/or maintaining particular practices or combinations of practices. This difficulty is especially pronounced because targeted management programs often have multiple, sometimes conflicting objectives. There are excellent and necessary efforts to develop decision support tools to help provide scientific insights into complex managed systems. However, local planners need guidelines to use these tools effectively because it is too easy to misuse them. For example, it is often not clear that a particular tool is only appropriate for certain regions or situations, or relies on a degree of data quality that is not ubiquitous. Ideally, policy incentives would increase interactions between scientists and planners to bridge the science-application gap, including monitoring to improve our understanding of how implementing and maintaining particular practices actually change local and system-wide environmental quality and, ultimately, help to improve future endeavors. The popularity of well-organized, grassroots environmental protection efforts and rising planners’ adeptness with geographic information systems makes this an ideal time to promote bottom-up policies that can capitalize on local knowledge and incorporate the robust and rapidly maturing science of targeted management.