Organize Conceptual Models

Once the conservation targets, threats and processes have been identified it is valuable to organize them into a visual representation – a conceptual ecological model (Maddox et al 1999). 

Linking targets, threats, and other factors in a simple visual model (either ecological or causal-chain) assists identifying and prioritizing actions and can be an invaluable communications device. Good models bring goals and actions together in a coherent and vivid way. A conceptual ecological model serves this purpose, not as a statement of “truth”, but as a representation of our best current understanding of the ecology and sociology of the system, the processes that drive it, and its ecological management.

Sound land management is guided by a set of well-articulated management and conservation goals.  It is these goals that inform and drive the construction of a management plan at any given place. Yet, two essential attributes of ecosystems complicate the design of land management.  First, ecosystems are extremely complex, often covering multiple temporal and spatial scales and involving many processes, patterns and species.  There are countless things that could be done to conserve and manage an area, but there are never enough resources and expertise to do them all.  Second, ecosystems tend to respond slowly to our management actions. 

Because of these complexities a compelling and visual representation is very important, both for organizing and communicating current understanding, goals, and values.  See Maddox et al (1999) for several examples.

A Roadmap for Conservation Planning


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