Ecological sustainability in the Chihuahuan Desert: Is rangeland health relevant?

TitleEcological sustainability in the Chihuahuan Desert: Is rangeland health relevant?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHerrick JE, Foladori G., Melgoza A.
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show
Date PublishedFebruary 5, 2005
Conference LocationFort Worth, TX
ARIS Log Number178301
KeywordsChihuahuan Desert, ecological properties and processes, ecological sustainability, rangeland health
AbstractRangeland health is increasingly promoted as a universal rangeland management objective. A protocol for interpreting indicators of rangeland health developed by a US interagency team has been extensively applied throughout the US and northern Mexico. A new version based on input from both the US and Mexico will be available in both Spanish and English in 2005. The protocol has been used to increase understanding of ecological properties and processes, and to assess the current status of those processes relative to their potential. While debates about the appropriate application of the protocol continue, it has been accepted and applied by many scientists and land managers in the US and Mexico. There has, however, been little critical evaluation of the relevance of either the specific protocol or the general concept of rangeland health to sustainability. The objectives of this paper are to provide an overview of the application of rangeland health on both sides of the border, and to critically evaluate not only its relevance to ecological sustainability, but also to socioeconomic sustainability, in order to better focus evaluations on those regions where management decisions are likely to be influenced by an increased understanding of rangeland health. We conclude that even a relatively rudimentary socioeconomic analysis may increase the cost-effectiveness of rangeland health evaluations.