Promoting the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of rangelands through the development and widespread use of the criteria & indicators for rangeland assessments, and by providing a forum for dialogue on the sustainability of rangelands.


Sustainable Ranch Management through Business Planning and Monitoring: A Workshop
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Washington, DC
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Sustainable Ranch Management through Business Planning and Monitoring: A Workshop
Thursday, Feb 10, 2011
Billings, Montana
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable and who participates?
The SRR is a stakeholder process for identifying criteria and indicators of rangeland sustainability. It is not, itself, a decision making body, but rather provides an opportunity for groups and individuals representing diverse interests and backgrounds to share information and perspectives on defining and describing C&I of rangeland sustainability. Currently we have representatives from numerous governmental agencies, professors of range ecology, sociology, animal science and economics, and members or industry groups, environmental organizations, and professional societies. The inclusive nature of the process will lead to wider acceptance and adoption of SRR products by agencies, non-profits, and academia, and the general public.

The SRR has a growing list of over a hundred representatives from Federal, state, and local agencies, 16 universities, non-governmental groups & organizations. The SRR has 4-5 meetings per year. Participants are organized in criterion groups, each focused on developing indicators for one criterion, and working groups, focused on cross-cutting issues. They continue SRR work between meetings through communication within their Criterion groups or with the large group in a series of email surveys known as the Delphi process.

Do the federal land management agencies support the effort? Who is paying for it?
Federal land management agencies have demonstrated support for the SRR through financial and participatory contributions. To date, the Forest Service, ARS, Bureau of Land Management, Geological Survey, NRCS, and Colorado State University have funded SRR activities. Participants and their organizations have supported SRR with time and effort. SRR participants, who volunteer their time to attend SRR meetings and carry out the work of SRR between meetings, comprise the most important contribution.

Are there other sustainability roundtables?
Other roundtables include the Roundtable for Sustainable Forests, Sustainable Minerals and Energy Roundtable, and Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. You can find out about them at the following websites:

How were the criteria and indicators developed?
The C&I have been identified by SRR participants during and between meetings. We began formal meetings in March 2001 by identifying major issues of importance to rangelands. These issues were integrated with the seven criterion developed for temperate and boreal forests. This effort resulted in five criteria for rangeland sustainability. A group then formed around each criterion to identify appropriate indicators for each, using the relevant forest indicators as a starting point. Over the course of 11 meetings in two years, these criterion and indicators have been debated, discussed, and agreed upon by criterion groups, and the SRR as a whole. Each criterion chapter of the report has been reviewed by the other Criterion Groups as well as by 2-3 external (to SRR) reviewers.

How do the rangeland criteria and indicators mirror the forest criteria and indicators?
The RSF has 67 indicators and SRR has 64 indicators, although they are not the same. The SRR used the forest C&I as a starting point for developing the SRR C&I. They cover many of the same topics and therefore should be similar enough to facilitate coordination between these effort (see previous question. SRR has since identified 27 core indicators from the original 64 indicators.

Who is the audience for the SRR First Approximation Report /effort?
Material from this document is expected to complement a national report on the status of U.S. forests, due in 2003, as well as a first approximation report being prepared by the Sustainable Minerals Roundtable. A shorter briefing paper and supporting technical document will summarize the SRR report and be distributed to Congressional staffers, NGOs, and agencies. It will be posted on the SRR website and thus available to all interested in rangeland sustainability.

Who will issue future SRR Reports?
SRR will continue to publish accomplishments through appropriate outlets, which include the SRR website, agency publications and scientific journals. In addition, SRR will publish summaries of its work to be used in outreach efforts to Congress, agency leaders, major NGOs, and the American people.

Why should Congress and the Administration accept these findings?
Congress has directed the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to jointly charter an interagency group, coordinated with professional societies, NGOs, and industry groups, to address rangeland assessment and monitoring at both local and national scales. Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey has asserted that having all agencies within these departments conducting work in a similar manner across multiple rangeland jurisdictions will move our nation ahead in understanding the state of our Nation's rangeland resources. Application of SRR criteria and indicators should accelerate agreement on elements and methods of evaluation. The indicators are collaboratively formulated by researchers, industry representatives, environmentalists, and government land management agency staff.

Is the SRR coordinating its efforts with others developing indicators of sustainability?
We have collaborated with other groups working on criteria and indicators, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests, the Sustainable Minerals and Energy Roundtable, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, EPA, and the President's Council on Sustainable Development. We hope to continue working with these groups in the future.

What follow-up is planned for the SRR First Approximation Report and effort?
At the release of the 2003 report, we held executive briefings with stakeholder groups and environmental NGO executive directors, agency heads, Congressional staff, and others to share our findings. After releasing its First Approximation Report, members of the SRR have a vision of working towards the widespread acceptance and use of criteria and indicators to assess trends in how sustainable U.S. rangelands are, and how they contribute to the sustainable development of the United States as a whole.

How do you plan to achieve broad acceptance of the SRR criteria and indicators?
We started working towards broad acceptance of the SRR by inviting many different stakeholders to participate in the process. The inclusive nature of the process should lead to wider acceptance and adoption of SRR products by agencies, non-profits, and academia. The SRR has worked hard to get external feedback through symposia like the Society for Range Management (SRM) annual meeting in 2002, and workshops (Ecological Society of America, 2002; Society and Natural Resources International meeting, 2002; and SRM annual meeting, 2003). In 2003, we presented a poster at annual meetings of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farmland Trust. As previously mentioned, we will hold executive briefings in Washington DC to coincide with the release of the First Approximation Report. We also have plans to present our work to National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Association of Conservation Districts, and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative this year as well. In addition, SRR conveners plan to share experiences and expand efforts by engaging rangeland management professionals from around the world in an information exchange session at the 7th International Rangeland Congress, July 2003, in Durban, South Africa.

This year we revised our mission statement to read, "The SRR will promote social, ecological, and economic sustainability of rangelands through the development and widespread use of the criteria and indicators for rangeland assessments, and by providing a forum for dialogue on rangeland sustainability". We have also re-written our operational plan to reflect a new emphasis on promoting the widespread use of the criteria and indicators.