Jump to Main Content
A Strategy for Rangeland Management Based on Best Available Knowledge and Information
- Karl, Jason W., Herrick, Jeffrey E., Browning, Dawn M.
- Rangeland ecology & management 2012 v.65 no.6 pp. 638-646
- climate, decision making, ecosystems, models, professional education, professionals, range management, rangelands, remote sensing, soil, vegetation
- Adapting what we currently know about ecosystems to a future where rangelands are changing is a new frontier in rangeland management. Current tools for knowledge discovery and application are limited because they cannot adequately judge ecological relevance of knowledge to specific situations. We propose development of integrated knowledge systems (KSs)—collections of resources (e.g., data, analytical tools, literature) drawn from disparate domains and organized around topics by process-based conceptual models. An integrated KS would define relevance by ecological attributes (e.g., soils, climate, vegetation) and location as a flexible mechanism for organizing, finding, and applying knowledge to rangeland management. A KS provides knowledge sources within a decision-making framework that defines what knowledge is needed and how it will be used to make decisions. Knowledge from a KS can identify appropriate spatial and temporal scales to address specific resource questions or objectives. Several factors currently limit KS development and implementation. These include limited interoperability of disparate information and knowledge systems; lack of consistent geographic referencing of knowledge; incomplete and inconsistent documentation of the origin, history and meaning of data and information; underexploited application of remote sensing products; limited ability to extrapolate and share local knowledge and unstructured information; and lack of training and education of professionals that can link ecological and technical fields of study. The proposed KS concept and recommendations present an opportunity to take advantage of emerging technologies and the collective knowledge of rangeland professionals to address changing ecosystems and evolving threats. If we keep on with a “business as usual” approach to finding and using information, we will struggle to meet our responsibilities as rangeland professionals.