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
More Information

Sustainable Ranch Management through Business Planning and Monitoring: A Workshop
Thursday, Feb 10, 2011
Billings, Montana
Guidebook, Course Book, and Presentations

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  • Sustainable Rangeland Issues Forum
    On Wednesday, May 18, 2011 leadership of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), American Sheep Industry (ASI), Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), Ecological Society of America (ESA), Public Lands Council (PLC) and Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) joined the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (SRR) to hold the first Sustainable Rangeland Issues Forum. The House Committee on Agriculture hosted the event in their Hearing Room, Longworth 1300, and we began with a continental breakfast sponsored by GLCI.

    Forty agency representatives and congressional staffers participated in the issues forum. Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White presented Opening Remarks to set the context for subsequent presentations. Emerging rangeland issues highlighted during the session included:
    • energy development and associated tradeoffs
    • open space and wildlife habitat for species including the Greater Sage-Grouse
    • production agriculture and contributions to food security

    With a new Farm Bill in the offing, comprehensive, sound rangeland resource information will be indispensable. Better resource data supports more balanced dialogue and discussion, culminating in stronger decisions. As financial resources become more scarce, the need intensifies for more efficient and effective land management policy.

  • Criteria and Indicators
    Following development of economic, ecological, and social criteria and indicators for rangeland assessment, the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (SRR) seeks to promote the importance and utility of criteria and indicators to assess the sustainability of rangelands relative to emerging issues. The SRR also facilitates and encourages cooperation among governmental agencies and other rangeland owners, users, decision-makers and managers. While the SRR has not worked internationally, the organization would like to promote opportunities to inform and learn from international rangeland sustainability activities, as appropriate. Examples of SRR's information materials pertaining to criteria and indicators are available below.

  • Conceptual Framework
    Integration of social, ecological and economic information is a key component of the SRR approach to rangeland sustainability assessment, and SRR seeks to promote integrated social, economic, and ecological rangeland sustainability research. The SRR endeavors to facilitate coordinated rangeland monitoring, analysis and data management. The conceptual framework developed by SRR to depict interrelationships among social, economic, and ecological indicator information has been published in peer-reviewed literature and guides SRR's thinking about comprehensive rangeland assessment. Materials related to the conceptual framework are linked below, and SRR will continue the evolution and testing of the SRR conceptual model to improve rangeland assessments.

    • SRR Update (pdf) - Criteria and Indicators for Standardized Inventory, Monitoring and Reporting (pdf - 3.3MB)
    • Conceptual Model (pdf) - January 2007 (2 pages)
    • Fox, William E., McCollum, Daniel W., Mitchell, John E., Swanson, Louis E., Kreuter, Urs P., Tanaka, John A., Evans, Gary R., Theodore Heintz, H., Breckenridge, Robert P. and Geissler, Paul H.(2009)'An Integrated Social, Economic, and Ecologic Conceptual (ISEEC) Framework for Considering Rangeland Sustainability',Society & Natural Resources,22:7,593 — 606
      Article URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920802247894
    • Indicator Information Integration (pdf - 800KB)
  • Ranch Sustainability Assessment
    The SRR encourages government agencies to generate and expand coordinated assessments using rangeland indicators for multiple audiences. Ranchers, rangeland owners and managers comprise one of the most important stakeholder groups with which SRR interacts. Integrated resource monitoring provides critical information to improve ranchers' business plans, ensuring parity between resource capabilities and business goals. In partnership with the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming State Grazing Board, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension, the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the USDI Bureau of Land Management, SRR has developed a guidebook to assist ranchers in initiating a business planning process and implementing social, ecological, and economic resource monitoring.

  • Ecosystem Services
    To explore importance of commodity and amenity values, the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (SRR) conducted workshops on rangeland ecosystem goods and services. These sessions incorporated extractable goods derived from rangelands, tangible and intangible rangeland ecosystem services, and core ecosystem processes that underlie these goods and services. While rangeland amenity values matter to some individuals, profit potential may motivate others to engage in conservation and/or provision of rangeland ecosystem goods and services. Workshops captured varied stakeholder perspectives and developed categorization frameworks, leading to creation of multiple communication pieces designed to highlight varied products and services provided by rangelands, available below. Comprehensive monitoring is also foundational to successful rangeland management for ecosystem goods and services. Managers and scientists need baseline data to detect changes. Actions and reactions in social and economic systems also must be monitored to obtain a complete picture of sustainability.

  • Climate Change
    Climate change is bringing increased uncertainty for rangeland management and sustainability. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been rising and warmer temperatures and more variable precipitation are predicted; all of which can have profound effects on rangeland ecology. To assess effects of changing climate on rangeland ecosystems, and to develop coherent adaptive management strategies, standardized assessment systems are needed to characterize soils, water, plants, animals, and productive capacities of landscapes. Economic and social systems and processes are inextricably linked with ecological systems and processes; therefore, data must be collected to clarify those linkages. These inter-relationships also must be considered in the development of effective management and mitigation strategies for changing climate. By incorporating monitoring into conservation, management and business plans, land owners and managers can improve their sustainable rangeland management.

Upcoming Projects

  • Energy
  • Food Security