Managing low-output agroecosystems sustainably: the importance of ecological thresholds

TitleManaging low-output agroecosystems sustainably: the importance of ecological thresholds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsBrown J., Herrick JE, Price D.
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Date Published1999
ARIS Log Number104647
AbstractManaging vegetation to achieve ecological, economic and social goals is difficult. Inherent complexity among ecosystem components and unpredictable climate often limit opportunities for converting cultural inputs to harvestable products. In addition, the long lag time between treatment and financial return makes capital investment in vegetation management economically risky. One tool that can assist land managers in dealing with these constraints is the identification of ecological thresholds and elucidation of processes that signal undesirable change long before it is entrained. This approach places a premium on detecting degrading processes and implementing management responses in the initial stages of land degradation and on limiting inputs to managerial expertise and manipulation of naturally occurring processes. We propose that research and implementation for sustainable land management should shift direction toward identifying ecological thresholds and should focus on developing low-input responses to avoid, rather than restore, land degradation.