Landscape Change in the South East

Students in the Grady College are the “media-arm” of a landmark conference on conservation and sustainability in the South East, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, USDA Forest Service and the Jones Ecological Research Center. Here, you can read interviews and news stories about the conference. To learn more about the Landscape Change in the American Southeast project click here.

Our Goals

Rationale: The rate and magnitude of ecological change that will occur over the next 50 years demands unique and innovative perspectives for the conservation and management of landscapes. One could argue that the current rate of change exceeds our ability to understand and react through research and management. Thus, approaches based solely on traditional management strategies, protection of rare species assemblages, or focusing on historic ecosystems are likely to fail given the predicted scale of change. We suggest that approaches for managing and mitigating ecological change should more fully incorporate the following 7 tenets:

1)    The inevitability of permanent ecological change must be accepted. There is little possibility of a return to historic or “original” conditions (i.e., traditional restoration) for many extant ecosystems.

2)    Management of ecosystems is under human influence either proactively through management in response to anticipated changes, reactively in response to observed changes, or passively by deciding not to respond or being unaware that change is occurring.

3)    Decisions about managing and mitigating ecological change must also be approached at multiple scales, including regional and landscape levels. By necessity, goal setting must acknowledge connections across multiple ecosystems and multiple stakeholders.

4)    Managers, researchers, and stakeholders must be partners in setting goals for managing and adapting to ecological change.

5)    Managing for ecological change must be cross-disciplinary, spanning traditional management and technical boundaries (terrestrial, aquatic, game and non-game wildlife, endangered species, etc).

6)    Goals for ecosystem management must be adaptive. Extensive monitoring and a willingness to evaluate and modify management actions must be explicit in planning as well as implementation.

7)    Objectives for managing and mitigating ecological change must include ecological and socioeconomic goals including those of private landowners and the need to produce essential commodities. In addition, there is an increasing need to maintain non-commodity ecological services essential for the biosphere’s health and sustainability.