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Science Advisory Panel Urges, Comprehensive ‘Landscape Approach’ To Fish, Wildlife Restoration
Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011 (PST)

“… unparalleled communication and cooperation” from the grassroots up to the highest levels of policy making is needed if the productivity, diversity, and resilience of fish and wildlife populations are to be maintained in the face of “landscape” change advancing as a result of human population growth and activity, according to a recently released report prepared by the Independent Scientific Advisory Panel.

 

“It is time to move beyond isolated management and restoration actions to broadly integrated actions based on a comprehensive landscape approach,” the report says. “Such an approach is just as important for local sustainable economies and cultures as it is for Nature and healthy ecosystems.”

 

The ISAB serves the NOAA Fisheries Service, Columbia River basin tribes, and Northwest Power and Conservation Council by providing independent scientific advice and recommendations regarding scientific issues that relate to the respective agencies' fish and wildlife programs.

 

Researchers Bruce Rieman, Nancy Huntly, Robert Naiman and Courtland Smith were on hand Tuesday to report to the NPCC on the objectives and recommendations from the ISAB report, “Using a Comprehensive Landscape Approach for More Effective Conservation and Restoration.”

 

The report can be found at:

http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/isab/isab2011-4.pdf

 

The report emphasizes that the concepts it espouses are of vital importance, but not new.

 

“The objectives of this report are to distill current concepts and understanding of the critical processes shaping landscapes and their associated fish and wildlife populations, and to synthesize the best approaches for conserving and restoring self-sustaining fish and wildlife populations within the landscapes of the Columbia River Basin.

 

“Landscapes are the features of an area of land, including the physical, biological, and socioeconomic characteristics. Collectively, they reflect the biophysical origins and the overlay of culture and human presence, often created over millennia,” the report says.

 

“This report focuses strongly on the socioeconomic dimension that has not been explicit in earlier ISAB reports. We emphasize the need for effective socioeconomic and ecological integration and interdisciplinary collaboration,” the report says. “Our review supports an effort to move beyond spatially isolated or independent projects to broader integration of actions.

 

“A comprehensive landscape approach demands a strong and continued coupling between biophysical and socioeconomic knowledge. It brings understanding and engagement on social and economic issues, making effective management and restoration possible.”

 

“A history of land use and conversion, alteration of habitat and habitat connectivity, socioeconomic growth and development, expansion of non-native species, and a shift from natural to artificial production of native and non-native fishes translate to declines in abundance and diversity of native species,” the report says. “Remnant native populations are often fewer, smaller, and more restricted in spatial extent; have more limited connectivity; and have less within and among population diversity.

 

“The net result is populations and species that are increasingly vulnerable in a changing and unpredictable world. These trends can be reversed if critical habitats and connections among them and their landscapes are conserved and restored, but the perspective guiding these efforts must be larger and more comprehensive than in the past.”

 

“This report focuses strongly on the socioeconomic dimension that has not been explicit in earlier ISAB reports. We emphasize the need for effective socioeconomic and ecological integration and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our review supports an effort to move beyond spatially isolated or independent projects to broader integration of actions. A landscape perspective is critical for effective habitat conservation and restoration.”

 

The ISAB report outlines general recommendations for any group pursuing a more comprehensive approach and the use of these criteria is the main recommendation of this report:

 

-- Engage the public and diverse social groups associated with the landscape and build socioeconomic understanding.

-- Incorporate a strategic approach with a foundation in the concepts of comprehensive landscape ecology.

-- Develop organizations that support collaboration, integration, and effective governance and leadership.

-- Promote adaptive capacity based on active learning through assessment, monitoring, innovation, experimentation, and modeling, combined with a clear process to share new information and revise objectives, strategies, and actions in response to that information.

 

“We beat the adaptive management drum hard in this report,” Huntly told the Council.

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