Results and Accomplishments
To demonstrate the utility of this framework on a site-specific basis, we have been working with a rangeland collaborative group located in Northern Arizona - the Diablo Trust. The Diablo Trust is a well-established collaborative management group with active participation of ranchers; federal, state, county and local government; Native American Tribes; several public-interest environmental conservation groups; NAU and other academic institutions; and area residents.
Based on the Diablo Trust's focal area of 400,000 acres of mixed-ownership rangeland, we have developed the Holistic Ecosystem Health Indicator - HEHI as a monitoring tool to asses rangeland health based on the Diablo Trust ecological and economic sustainability goals.
We employed multiple methodologies to inform the selection of indicators, including: literature review, conceptual models, stakeholder interviews, and expert consultations. The current HEHI framework developed for the Diablo Trust is comprised of 54 core indicators: 21 for the ecological branch; 12 for the social branch; and 21 for the interactive branch. This framework will go through multiple revisions as we obtain stakeholder input through multi-party monitoring workshops in Phase II of this project
Our objectives for the next phase of this project to implement the HEHI include:
- development of cost-effective sampling protocols for the ecological and social indicators organized in the HEHI;
- transfer of the HEHI tool to stakeholders through monitoring training workshops;
- pilot field testing of indicators and evaluating effectiveness of the HEHI as a monitoring tool for CBCs.
The implementation of the tool will have the added benefit of combining existing monitoring efforts and protocols collected by different agencies, resource users, and volunteers into a single data repository. We also anticipate that these efforts will enhance the Diablo Trust's adaptive management efforts by contributing directly to the development of collaborative capacity and participatory decision making, and by making information transparent, facilitating communication among stakeholders, and increasing learning efficiencies.
Finally, to assess the relevance of the results from the Diablo Trust case study to other community-based collaboratives, we are also collaborating with other researchers involved in multi-party monitoring of rangeland systems in Colorado with the Northwest Colorado Stewardship collaborative, and in southern Arizona with the Malpai Borderlands Group. This study, entitled "Assessing the adaptive capacity of collaboratively managed rangeland ecosystems" will conduct a meta-analysis of the multi-party monitoring efforts employed by the different rangeland collaboratives and explore the applicability of ecological and social indicators across different rangeland systems. Therefore, while the indicators chosen in this study are specifically tailored to address characteristics of the Diablo Trust case study, we anticipate that the HEHI has the potential to inform adaptive management efforts and address sustainability at larger, regional scales. In this sense, the HEHI has wider implications for operationalizing the concepts of ecosystem health and sustainability in a way that empowers democratic approaches to natural resource management.