Ecosystem management involves the integration of ecological, economic, and social objectives. Two important ecological objectives are the conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem integrity. The development of specific conservation measures, through the ecosystem management planning process, should meet these ecological objectives while also allowing economic and social uses within the landscape. The planning process helps define the ecological sustainability of the landscape, or the extent of goods and services that the landscape can supply in perpetuity while conserving biological diversity and ecosystem integrity. The members of the Association have taken the lead in initiating this approach to management of lands and resources while coordinating their efforts with the appropriate local, state, and federal entities.
The Association has conducted an ecological assessment and is about to complete the initial ecosystem management planning process, developing appropriate conservation measures in support of a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances or CCAA. Appropriate conservation measures will be identified in conjunction with each member in support of the Association's goals and will be included in each member's Certificate of Inclusion. The Certificate of Inclusion, or CI, allows each member to participate in the CCAA.
The ecosystem assessment used a historical reference approach to address the ecological objectives. This approach attempts to identify the array of ecosystems in the landscape that occurred under historical disturbance regimes, and subsequently identify threshold levels for amounts of each ecosystem that must be represented and distributed within the landscape to meet the ecological objectives. The appropriate distributions and amounts of each ecosystem were checked using an assessment of the viability of selected species to assure that adequate threshold levels have been identified. This approach should provide the required habitat conditions for all native species within the landscape. A downloadable copy of the Assessment can be found in the Library section.
Ecosystem Management Planning
Identifying threshold levels for ecological sustainability requires both science and value decisions. Science strives to define a range of representation levels required to meet the ecological objectives as well as the possible range of socio-economic activity and productivity levels, while still providing for the ecological objectives. Important considerations include:
It is expected that lands owned by different landowners or agencies may play different roles in the overall ecosystem management plan. Where desired conservation measures are best located on private lands, private landowners or companies will recognize these needs. In cases where these actions should occur on non-private lands, the Association will work with the appropriate agency and will encourage development of Candidate Conservation Agreements that are compatible with the Association's CCAA. Incentive programs will be identified to make private land contributions to the ecological objectives feasible to the landowner or company.
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Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association