The University of Arizona

Identifying Rangeland Restoration Targets: An Appraisal of Challenges and Opportunities

Thomas A. Monaco, Thomas A. Jones, Thomas L. Thurow


Restoration activities are directed toward a broad spectrum of targets. Identifying a restoration target entails defining an ecosystem state and its desired functioning that can be attained through managerial interventions. First, we discuss how restoration targets must integrate economic, social, and ecological considerations in order to be feasible. Primary challenges to identifying realistic restoration targets include long-term managerial and fiscal commitments as well as the accommodation of inherent rangeland complexities stemming from social and ecological factors. Second, we illustrate how the existing tools of ecological site description, rangeland health assessment, and state-and-transition modeling present opportunities to identify flexible restoration targets. Last, we describe how to refine these targets using adaptive management in order to cope with constraints and to reduce the uncertainty of ecosystem dynamics typical of complex systems. Restoration should be viewed as both a rangeland management activity and a means to inform and guide interventions within a specific site.

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