Main content area

The Struggle for a Uniform Monitoring System

Smith, E. Lamar
Arid land research and management 2003 v.17 no.4 pp. 347-358
environmental protection, forage, inventories, management systems, monitoring, planning, rangelands, stocking rate, surveys, United States
Development of rangeland inventory and monitoring was initiated as early as in 1908. The early efforts were simple methods to establish rangeland stocking rates. With advancing scientific methodologies and the recognition for moitoring needs, the evaluation of range conditions and management planning increase well after WWII by a number of US federal agencies. By 1970s the environmental protection measures were first emphasized in the USA and were applied also to rangeland utilization. Since then the approaches and methodologies for evaluation of rangelands have changed periodically by accommodating the tenets of federal administrations. The methodologies applied have been geared either to support the environmental preservation or to support economic exploitation. There is still no system, however, for national or regional reporting on range conditions and trends. Local monitoring and management systems often lack scientific and objective basis. Local surveys, however, are important for evaluating existing conditions and should not be based on national reporting requirements. The ecological site concept has been adopted as the toxonomic unit for rangeland classification. It is important that monitoring methods are not biased, based on sufficient sample sizes, and not based on "estimations". The forage allocation based on one-time inventories are seriously flawed and the methods for evaluating stocking rates must be reevaluated. The same applies to the evaluating the rangeland "health." A unified national reporting system must be developed on scientific and objective basis.