National ecosystem assessment supported by scientific and local knowledge

TitleNational ecosystem assessment supported by scientific and local knowledge
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHerrick JE, Lessard VC, Spaeth KE, Shaver PL, Dayton RS, Pyke DA, Jolley L, J. Goebel J
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Accession NumberJRN00540
ARIS Log Number251483

An understanding of the extent and severity of land degradation and recovery is necessary to guide land use policy and management, yet currently available assessments are widely known to be inadequate. We describe results of the first statistically-based application of a new approach to national assessments that integrates scientific and local knowledge. Qualitative observations completed at over 10,000 plots in the United States showed that while soil degradation remains an issue, loss of biotic integrity is more widespread. Quantitative soil and vegetation data collected at the same locations support the assessments and serve as a baseline for monitoring the effectiveness of policy and management, including responses to climate change. For example, non-native species currently occur on nearly 50% of non-federal rangelands, and account for at least 50% of plant cover on over 5% of these lands. These results provide information necessary to support strategic decisions by land managers and policy-makers.