The Landscape Toolbox project began with two concepts:
- There are many different techniques, tools, methods, data sources, and models available to aid in the monitoring and assessment of rangeland landscapes; and
- For the most part, with a few notable exceptions, these tools are not being used effectively or in a coordinated manner.
The reasons why these tools are not being widely used are varied, but two of the main reasons were a lack of general understanding as to what the different tools/methods did and when it was appropriate to use them and the absence of any sort of system to integrate different techniques into a workflow that could address management or monitoring objectives. As a result, the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, the Bureau of Land Management’s AIM program and the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy are working with both public and private land management partners to develop a system, the Landscape Toolbox, for describing and integrating ecological analysis and monitoring tools that is designed to enable better rangeland management at landscape scales.
The goal of the Landscape Toolbox is to realize better ecosystem management by integrating existing and emerging field, remote sensing, and analysis methods for rangeland assessment, monitoring, and planning.
Protecting or improving rangeland condition requires comprehensive landscape management strategies. Land managers have embraced a landscape-scale philosophy and new methods are being developed to provide information to planners and managers such as satellite imagery to assess current conditions and detect changes, and predictive models to forecast change. Unfortunately, there is currently no coordinated system for integrating these new approaches with existing management methods.
A key strength of the Landscape Toolbox is its ability to integrate information gathered at multiple scales, ranging from site specific ground-based surveys to large-scale remote sensing methods. By merging these different types of data into a single analytical framework, the toolbox provides an objective, measurable, repeatable, and efficient system that managers can use to analyze rangeland ecosystems.
Landscape Toolbox Objectives
At its foundation, the Landscape Toolbox has two basic premises. First, most management questions can be asked at more than one scale (see below), and second, any method or technology has a range of scales over which it can provide meaningful information to answer management questions. Thus the best results will come from matching management questions to a mix of technologies and methods based on the scale of the question. The objective of the Landscape Toolbox project is to show how, by organizing management questions and information by scale, different methods and technologies can be used together to answer questions at different scales.