• Unwanted No More: Land Use, Ecosystem Services, and Opportunities for Resilience in Human-Influenced Shrublands

      Brunson, Mark (Society for Range Management, 2014-04-01)
      On the Ground • Shrub-dominated rangelands are highly susceptible to land degradation, partly because low land values can encourage neglect, leading to poor stewardship and/or conversion to more lucrative but ecologically less desirably uses. • Recent efforts to assess the value of “ecosystem services” show that commodity values don’t capture all the benefits of shrublands to society. • Efforts to prevent shrubland degradation and land type conversion can be enhanced if the value of noncommodity ecosystem services can be recognized. • Conceptual modeling of socio-ecological systems can point decision makers and stakeholders toward strategies to enhance shrubland resilience and protect ecosystem services.
    • Valuing and Rewarding Ecosystem Services From Rangelands

      MacLeod, Neil D.; Brown, Joel R. (Society for Range Management, 2014-04-01)
      On the Ground • Ecosystem services are the wide array of benefits that people gain from natural ecosystems but many are not paid for nor is their future supply guaranteed. • Many attempts are being made to define, measure, and value these natural services in order to secure their future—many of these methods are theoretical. • Finding practical ways to reward land managers for providing elevated levels of services and protecting the capacity of range resources to provide those services is a challenge—theory well precedes practice. • Range landscapes typically encompass heterogeneous ecological units dominated by native vegetation and have the capacity to provide different levels of ecosystem services depending on both site features and local management. • Ecological Site Descriptions are potentially valuable for organizing information related to management options to achieve ecosystem service objectives and provide benchmarks for stewardship rewards or compliance expectations.
    • View Point: Learning to Live With Cheatgrass: Giving Up or a Necessary Paradigm Shift?

      Kitchen, Stanley G. (Society for Range Management, 2014-04-01)
      On the Ground • The contemporary flora and fauna of North America represent the survivors of repeated waves of emigration through geologic time mixed with local evolutionary processes. • The rate of intercontinental species exchange has increased exponentially during the last 500 years due to intentional and accidental transport by humans. • Altered ecosystem composition, structure, and functionality are an inevitable consequence of species migration and naturalization. • Highly successful newcomers, such as cheatgrass, should be viewed as permanent additions to North American flora. • Researchers, land owners and managers, and policy makers would do well to acknowledge the new realities created by introduced species and focus efforts on 1) limiting new introductions, 2) assessing the variability of impacts across affected ecosystems, and 3) developing reasonable expectations and practices for mitigating effects while preserving core ecosystem functionality.