A web interface for exploring and setting land management benchmarks

TitleA web interface for exploring and setting land management benchmarks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsStauffer N, Laurance-Traynor A, McCord S
Conference NameSociety for Range Management Annual Meeting 2022
Date Published2022
ARIS Log Number392787

Land managers make their decisions informed by  the best available data. Data require interpretation in order to be applied to management decisions, however. One method for interpreting quantitative data is the application of quantitative benchmarks. Benchmarks are values or ranges of values for a given measured indicator of landscape function which can be used to classify the data into management categories such as “meeting” and “not meeting” objectives or “unsuitable,” “marginal,” and “suitable” habitat. Importantly, benchmarks can be tied to covariates like soils, landforms, or ecological sites, which then enables the application of benchmarks as a layer of interpretation. This practice is already widespread with applications like the Sage-Grouse Habitat Assessment Framework which uses benchmarks tied to season of use to classify measured indicator values according to habitat suitability classes. However, most potential use cases for benchmarks start with the difficult determination of the benchmark values for each classification category.

In order to empower land managers to set their benchmarks, we have created a web application, the Benchmark Exploration Tool. This tool allows users to upload their own monitoring data or download data from the Landscape Data Commons and visualize them as histograms. Users are able to set quantiles to plot in the generated figures in order to better intuit the distribution of their data. Users can also set and apply benchmarks, based on policy, local knowledge of ecosystem structure and function, or other sources. This allows users to see how different benchmark values might affect their interpretation of the data. All figures and tables produced by the tool can be downloaded for use in reports or other documentation.

With this tool, land managers can better understand their data and establish data-driven benchmarks for their management efforts.