Where and when to restore? Developing a practical rapid assessment method to prioritize areas for ecological management

Every day, land managers must make decisions how to use limited time and financial resources to achieve management or restoration goals in parks, preserves, and other natural areas. Too often, “shotgun” or other ad hoc approaches are employed in the management of natural areas, resulting in ineffective or inefficient management. Using an objective, science-based approach to rank natural areas in terms of ecological quality offers a better way to prioritize areas for management, leading to more effective management outcomes. Recent research suggests that such an approach need not be complicated, expensive, or require advanced field skills to implement. This research has resulted in the development of a powerful – and surprisingly simple – rapid assessment method that can be used to prioritize restoration areas and inform management decisions. In this presentation, I will describe the development of the rapid assessment method and demonstrate its use via real-world management scenarios.

Subject Matter Level: 
Saturday, January 16, 2016 - 10:00am to 10:50am
Justin Heslinga
Land Conservancy of West Michigan
Justin is the Stewardship Coordinator at the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Calvin College and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan. His interests include botany, community ecology, ecosystem management, and ecological monitoring. The majority of his professional experience has focused on ecosystem ecology and restoration in Michigan, but he has also worked on conservation issues in other parts of the Midwest and in East Africa. As the head of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s stewardship program, Justin is in involved in all aspects of managing the Land Conservancy’s sixteen nature preserves.
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