Using ecological sites and state and transition models to support objective based conservation planning

TitleUsing ecological sites and state and transition models to support objective based conservation planning
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBestelmeyer BT, Brown JR, Strait R
Conference Name73rd Soil and Water Conservation Society International Conference
Date Published07/2018
Conference LocationAlbuquerque
ARIS Log Number357265

Use of Ecological Site Information, Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs), and State and Transition Models (STMs) in the 9 Step Conservation Planning Process on all land uses will be covered to support objective based conservation planning. ESDs provide land managers the information needed for evaluating land use suitability, response to different management activities or disturbance processes, and ability to sustain productivity over the long term. Integrating ESDs is the most spatially and temporally relevant model for a conservation planner to use for multiple land uses when discussing client objectives, defining resource concerns, conducting inventories, selecting applicable practices/management measures, monitoring effects, and supplying feedback. Site specific use of STMs assure that conservation planners collect, organize, manage, and apply ecologically based conservation planning information. STMs describe a range of resource conditions (e.g., states and phases) and processes (e.g., time, triggers, succession, disturbances, management activities/practices) related to transitions in each land use. Development of hierarchical nested STMs for major land uses and sub-land uses that describe a common range of resource conditions, along with the conservation practices/management systems that can drive a desired resource change, allow the planner to focus on applicable land use(s) that apply. STMs can also be utilized to avoid making common conservation planning mistakes, such as utilizing practices that are not well-suited or applying practices that have negative effect on resource conditions.  Transitions between states include information about conservation practices and adaptive management concepts that can achieve desired resource conditions. States and phases are explicitly connected to soil health, soil health indicators, and soil health management systems; and can be utilized across the country on a wide range conditions to guide conservation planning.