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Implementing Ecosystem

An Ecosystem Management Process
Step 1. Select an ecologically meaningful unit (e.g. an ecoregion, a
landscape, a watershed, etc.)

Step 2. Conduct an integrated assessment, consisting of:

- An ecological assessment
a) Terrestrial
b) Aquatic
- A Socio-economic assessment
- An integrated analysis of the first two components

Step 3 Develop a range of management alternatives

 Determine the “Desired Future Condition”

Step 4. Select an alternative, then implement it.

Step 5. Monitor
How do we construct a range of
management alternatives?
1. “No Action” alternative – required by NEPA
2. A range of alternatives that varies by the extent or
intensity of actions proposed
• Slight action
• Moderate action
• Extreme action
3. Alternatives that tradeoff multiple objectives in
varying combinations
4. Alternatives proposed by interest groups or
Sewing Together a
Functional Landscape:

What are the building blocks of

a functional landscape?
There is a spectrum of management

Active Intermediary Passive

Management: Approaches Management:
• Intensive landscape • Combines elements of • Conservation focused on
manipulation both fully protected “core”
• Conservation through an • Landscape zoned into a
orchestrated shifting range of allocations • Initial active restoration
mosaic of patches over efforts often included
• Different allocations
time managed actively or • But nature left “to take its
• Provides resource passively or somewhere in course” thereafter
managers with maximum between
flexibility but carries high
IUCN’s* Six Protected Areas
Management Categories
Category I. Strict Nature Reserve: managed for science or wilderness
Category II. National Park: managed primarily for ecosystem protection
and recreation
Category III. Natural Monument: managed primarily for conservation of
specific natural features
Category IV. Habitat/Species Management Area: managed for conservation
through active intervention
Category V. Protected Landscape/Seascape: Managed for cultural and
scenic integrity, conservation, and recreation; human
settlements and agricultural areas are accommodated
Category VI. Managed Resource Protected Area: Managed primarily for the
sustainable use of ecosystems

IUCN = The World Conservation Union, previously

known as the International Union for the Conservation
of Nature
Core Small
Reserve Core
Protected Areas Explained
1. What is a protected area?
• “An area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection of
biological diversity and natural and associated cultural resources, and
managed through legal or other effective means (IUCN 1996).”

2. Benefits provided by protected areas

– Conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity
– Recreation
– Prevention of erosion on watersheds
– Provision of clean water to cities
– Provision of clean air
– Control of biological pests
– Preservation of medicinal and genetic resources
– Maintenance of harvestable resources
– Soil regeneration
– Nutrient cycling
– Carbon sequestration/climatic regulation
Core Reserves
• SLOSS = single large or several small
• Minimum Critical Area: The minimum size needed to support
viable populations of constituent species

• Minimum Dynamic Area: The minimum size needed to

absorb large disturbances and still maintain colonization sources and
viable populations
• Redundancy
• Representativeness
• Gap Analysis
National Gap Analysis Program

The mission of the Gap Analysis Program (GAP) is to provide regional

assessments of the conservation status of native vertebrate species and
natural land cover types and to facilitate the application of this information
to land management activities. This is accomplished through the following
five objectives:

1. map the land cover of the United States

2. map predicted distributions of vertebrate species for the U.S.
3. document the representation of vertebrate species and land cover
types in areas managed for the long-term maintenance of
4. provide this information to the public and those entities charged
with land use research, policy, planning, and management
5. build institutional cooperation in the application of this
information to state and regional management activities.
Status of the Gap Analysis Program
picture is Lake Champlain
lowlands from VT Gap Project

Overlaid on

Vertebrate species
distributions: picture
is bat diversity in
Washington state from
WA Gap Project

Overlaid on
maps of
protected areas
Result: Biologically important areas
left out of protected areas system are
recommended for future protection
Marine Protected Areas of the World
Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument:
• Largest marine reserve in the world
• 140,000 sq. miles
Protected Areas for
Commercial Fish
Protected Areas
as Population
“Sources” for
Nodes and MUMs (Noss and Harris 1986)


Standards and guidelines prescribe management actions and policies
that maintain habitat features and connectivity around core.

• Human uses are accommodated if they don’t compromise the primary

objective of the core.

• Can include several layers or concentric circles of buffering, with

decreasing levels of protection moving away from the core

• Buffers often exist on paper but mean little in reality due to lack
enforcement or conflicts with local communities, land tenure, etc.

• UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme  Biosphere reserves
– Yellowstone, Olympic National Park, Smokey Mountains National Park
 Is it working?

• Integrated Conservation and Development Programs (ICDP)  internationally

sponsored projects, including indigenous extractive reserves, in developing
MAB Biosphere Reserves in the United States
Terrestrial Corridors
• Pros
– Species for which the corridors provide effective dispersal habitat
can use them
– Helps maintain demographic (and thus genetic) interaction
between populations
– Provide landscape features with other, indirect benefits, such as
wind breaking, run-off reduction, soil stabilization, etc.
• Cons
– May be a “sink” for a subset of species
– May expose dispersing individuals to predation
– Animals may not find or use them
– Hard to establish wide enough (and long enough) corridors in
populated landscapes
Source: Bo Wilmer
Riparian Corridor
Riparian Corridors
• “dendritic” networks form an extensive system of potential
• Many species prefer to move along riparian corridors
• Links together aquatic ecosystems
• Corridors act as riparian buffers, so they provide other
ecological functions, such as bank stabilization, in-stream
shade, habitat for riparian dependent species, etc.

• Some terrestrial species won’t use them.
• They don’t entirely link together headwater areas or
provide lateral linkages in lowland areas  they don’t
always connect the core area you need connected!
Connectivity: Have to think about
aquatic ecosystem connectivity too!
Non-corridor Connectivity Approaches
• Provide a variety of habitats structures across the landscape and in
intervening areas between core reserves.

• These might include:

- Smaller patches and blocks of habitat
- A mosaic of patches that provides the mix of habitat types needed
to support dispersing animals
- Forest stands managed to “dispersal habitat” standards
- Individual structures, such as snags and scattered larger trees.
- Long-rotation forestry; gradient-of-retention forestry
- Protection for special habitats, such as caves, talus slopes, other
rocky out-croppings, wetlands, seeps, etc.

• Example: the Northwest Forest Plan – used a combination of riparian

buffers and structural retention in managed areas to provide
connectivity, but decided not to use discrete terrestrial corridors
Reserves Designated by
the Northwest Forest

From: Vogt, K.A., J.C. Gordon, J.P. Wargo,

D.J. Vogt, H. Asbjornsen, P.A. Palmiotto,
H. J. Clark, J.L. O’Hara, W.S. Keeton, T.
Patel-Weynand, and E. Witten. 1997.
Ecosystems: Balancing Science with
Management. Springer-Verlag.
“Demonstration of Ecosystem
Management Options”
15 trees per acre:
How effective is
this ecologically?

Restoration Areas
Restoration is the return of a degraded ecosystem to a close
approximation of its remaining natural potential.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies’ principles of good

• Preserve and protect aquatic resources
• Restore ecological integrity
• Restore natural structure
• Restore natural function
• Work within the watershed and broader landscape context
• Understand the natural potential of the watershed
• Address ongoing causes of degradation
• Develop clear, achievable, and measurable goals
• Focus on feasibility
• Use a reference site
• Anticipate future changes
• Involve the skills and insights of a multi-disciplinary team
• Design for self-sustainability
• Use passive restoration, when appropriate
• Restore native species and avoid non-native species
• Use natural fixes and bioengineering techniques, where possible
• Monitor and adapt where changes are necessary

• Matrix provides the primary area for intensive resource use, including
extractive uses and more intensive recreational development.

• Matrix is very important ecologically. Why?

– It is the dominant patch type – covers the largest area
– So probably includes much, if the not majority, of the biodiversity
– Determines the level of connectivity
– Strongly influences the effectiveness of reserves
– Produces ecosystem goods and services for people

• “Standards and guidelines” on public lands, or other incentives or

collaborative-based approaches on private lands, help maintain some
level of habitat protection and ecosystem functioning.

• Site-suitability standards that prescribe the site-specific

appropriateness of management activities.
Matrix Matrix
Core Riparian Corridor Small
Reserve Core



Matrix Large

Intensively modified
areas/urban/low potential Buffer
Where will the functional
landscape approach work?
• The functional landscape approach will involve a
range of strategies depending on context.

• Can fully implement on large-ownerships, such as

in the western U.S., portions of the northern forest
bioregion, southern Appalachian region, etc.

• Need other approaches in private and small

ownership dominated landscapes
Strategies for private land
dominated landscapes
• Tax incentives • Fostering “sense of
• Property tax reform place”
• Conservation easements • Green certification
• Information sharing • Planning and land-use
• Watershed zoning
groups/coordination • Subsidies: some like
• Community-based forestry them, some don’t
and tourism • Public lands acquisition
• Wildland, wetland, or forest
mitigation banks • Regulation through
environmental statutes
Tax-Based Approaches
• Tax incentives
• Property tax reform
• Conservation
• Transfer of
development rights
Information Sharing
• Information transfer
• Community/watershed groups
White River
• Local
• State agencies
• Federal agencies
• Conservation
Conservation “Banks”
• Wildlands, wetlands, and forests
Fostering Sense of Place
Regulation, Subsidies, or

• Land and Water Conservation Fund, est. 1965

-Authorized to spend $900 million annually
- Only met twice in 42 years
-FY 2007: Enacted Allocation: $143,000,000
- to Forest Service, Park Service, BLM,
Fish and Wildlife Service, and State grants