Spatially explicit landscape analyses are a central activity in research on the relationships between people and changes in natural systems. Using geographical information systems and related tools, the Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium depicted historical (pre-EuroAmerican settlement, circa 1850), current (circa 1990), and three alternative future (circa 2050) landscapes for western Oregon's Willamette River Basin. These depictions were used to better understand and anticipate trajectories of change in human occupancy and natural resource condition. During a 30-month period, we worked with lay and professional citizen groups to create, map, and refine a set of value-based assumptions about future policy in three scenarios concerning land and water use. The Plan Trend 2050 scenario represents the expected future landscape in 2050 if current policies are implemented as written and recent trends continue. Development 2050 reflects a loosening of current policies, to allow freer rein to market forces across all components of the landscape, but still within the range of what citizen stakeholders considered plausible. Conservation 2050 places greater emphasis on ecosystem protection and restoration, still reflecting a plausible balance among ecological, social, and economic considerations as defined by the stakeholders. For the Conservation scenario, natural resource managers and scientists provided estimates for the area of key habitats required to sustain, in perpetuity, the array of dependent species. Spatially explicit analyses identified locations biophysically suited to meet the area targets. These locations, titled the Conservation and Restoration Opportunity Areas, were mapped and then reviewed by a series of groups regarding the political plausibility of conserving or restoring them to the indicated vegetation types. The three alternative 2050 futures, as well as the 1850 past conditions, were then evaluated by an array of evaluation models described by others in this issue. The Conservation and Restoration Opportunities map from the Conservation 2050 scenario has been adopted by the group charged with salmon recovery in the basin as the centerpiece of its restoration strategy.
Ecological Applications – Ecological Society of America
Published: Apr 1, 2004
Keywords: citizen stakeholders ; expert stakeholders ; land use ; spatially explicit alternatives ; water use ; Willamette Valley, Oregon (USA)
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