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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380849

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: A synthesis of ranch-level indicators that demonstrate sustainability across the beef supply chain

Author
item AHLERING, MARISSA - The Nature Conservancy
item KAZANSKI, CLARE - The Nature Conservancy
item LENDRUM, PATRICK - World Wildlife Fund
item BORRELLI, PABLO - Non ARS Employee
item CLARK, LEXI - Field To Market: The Alliance For Sustainable Agriculture
item ELLIS, CHAD - Non ARS Employee
item GADZIA, KIRK - Non ARS Employee
item GELBARD, JONATHAN - Non ARS Employee
item GOODWIN, JEFF - Noble Research Institute
item Herrick, Jeffrey - Jeff
item KACHERGIS, EMILY - Bureau Of Land Management
item KNAPP, CORRINE - University Of Wyoming
item MACZKO, KRISTIE - Non ARS Employee
item PORZIG, ELIZABETH - Non ARS Employee
item RIZZO, DAVID - Non ARS Employee
item Spiegal, Sheri
item WILSON, CHRISTOPHER - National Audubon Society

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/6/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The objective of this paper was to synthesize knowledge about how to assess and monitor ranch-scale sustainability. We also sought to identify core ecological, social, and economic indicators that could can be used to describe well-managed rangeland and ranching operations, support adaptive management, and demonstrate producers’ sustainability and continuous improvement to retailers and consumers. We evaluated over 190 indicators from 21 range and pastureland assessments used or created by NGOs, agencies, and academics. From this, we selected 20 commonly used “core” indicators (12 ecological and 8 socioeconomic). We chose indicators designed to detect change over time in relation to management practices, are common among many approaches, and/or are critical indicators for outcomes of common interest to producers, companies, and consumers. The synthesis of indicators offers insight into what a diverse set of range professionals and institutions see as most critical to demonstrate and track ranch-level sustainability. Producers, consumers, and companies may find a subset of these indicators to be especially relevant for their operation and region, values, and/or company sustainability goals.

Technical Abstract: Increasing numbers of ranchers are striving to demonstrate that they are managing their operations in a sustainable manner to maintain a healthy landscape while at the same time companies seek to advance sustainability along their beef supply chains and consumers seek to support sustainability with their purchasing choices.  Yet there is a need for greater clarity on which indicators are most effective for assessing and monitoring sustainable management and continuous improvement of ranching operations. Our objective was to synthesize existing guidance on monitoring and assessing ranch-scale sustainability and to identify core ecological, social, and economic indicators that could identify well-managed ranching, support adaptive management, and demonstrate producers’ sustainability and continuous improvement to retailers and consumers. We evaluated 21 range and pastureland assessments from NGOs, agencies, and academics that totaled over 190 indicators. From this, we selected 20 commonly used “core” indicators (12 ecological and 8 socioeconomic). We chose indicators designed to detect change over time in relation to management practices, are common among many approaches, and/or are critical indicators for outcomes of common interest to producers, companies, and consumers. The synthesis of indicators across many guidance documents offers insight into what a diverse set of range professionals and institutions see as most critical to demonstrate and track ranch-level sustainability. Producers, consumers, and companies may find a subset of these indicators to be especially relevant for their operation and region, values, and/or company sustainability goals.