What is the standard for rangeland health assessments?

TitleWhat is the standard for rangeland health assessments?
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsPyke D.A., Herrick JE, Shaver P.L., Pellant M.
Conference NameVIIth International Rangelands Congress
Date PublishedJuly 26-August 1
Conference LocationDurban, South Africa
ARIS Log Number159624
Keywordsassessments, ecological processes, rangeland health, standard
AbstractRangeland health encompasses the maintenance of complex ecological processes on rangelands over time. In an attempt to provide a rapid, moment-in-time assessment of rangeland health, we developed the Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health approach that uses 17 observable indicators to assess 3 attributes of rangeland health, soil and site stability, hydrologic functioning and biotic integrity. In the initial published version, the standard for comparison for assessing an evaluation area was the Ecological Site Description, the description of physical and biotic characteristics of lands that produce distinctive types and amounts of vegetation and that respond similarly to management. Multiple reference areas provided visual representations of the ecological site and were used to supplement ecological site descriptions or as the standard when ecological site descriptions were not available. We developed an ecological reference worksheet to provide a consistent standard for assessing rangeland health regardless of the availability of a formal ecological site description or a series of reference areas. This worksheet should be completed by a group of experts familiar with the range of variation in soil, hydrologic and biologic indicators. When possible, data similar to that found in ecological site descriptions should be used to generate the range of variation expected for a functioning site. Once the standard range of variation is described, the group should describe the four categories of expected deviations from this standard using generic descriptions of these categories as a guide. We believe this change will allow this technique to be used by experts throughout the world.