The responsible management of natural resources for present-day needs and future generations requires integrated approaches that are place-based, embrace systems thinking, and incorporate the social, economic, and environmental considerations of sustainability.1 Landscape-scale analysis takes this holistic view by focusing on the spatial scales most appropriate for the resource types and values being managed. Landscape-scale analysis involves assessing landscape features in relation to a group of influencing factors such as land use change, hydrologic changes or other disturbances, topography, and historical vegetation conditions. A landscape can be defined as “a large area encompassing an interacting mosaic of ecosystems and human systems that is characterized by a set of common management concerns. The landscape is not defined by the size of the area, but rather by the interacting elements that are meaningful to the management objectives.”2
As such, different types of data and multiple disciplines may be required for landscape analysis, depending on the question of interest and scale of analysis. Multi-resource analysis (MRA) is an approach to landscape-scale analysis that integrates information among multiple natural resources, including ecosystem services, and is designed to evaluate impacts and tradeoffs between development and conservation at landscape scales to inform public resource managers. This approach implicitly addresses social, economic, and ecological functional
1 A short background paper on landscape-scale and multi-resource analyses was provided to workshop participants and is incorporated as the following Introduction.
2 Department of the Interior (DOI). 2014. A Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of The Department of the Interior. A Report to The Secretary of the Interior From The Energy and Climate Change Task Force. [Available at: http://www.doi.gov/news/upload/MitigationReport-to-the-Secretary_FINAL_04_08_14.pdf].
relationships; for example, actions to realize the benefits of one type of natural resource (e.g., minerals, oil, and gas) may influence behavior and potential benefits related to other types of natural resources (e.g., recreational opportunities).
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are just two of several federal agencies embracing these approaches to encourage broader interdisciplinary thinking across and within their mission areas. The USGS Science and Decisions Center (SDC) is working with partners to develop a framework and proof-of-concept for a next-generation MRA. The MRA builds on USGS resource assessments conducted throughout its long history that provide robust scientific data for land management, water allocation, energy and mineral policy, and conservation of U.S. natural resources. The current suite of resource assessments is conducted under single-discipline assumptions and not readily integrated. Using MRA complements traditional resource assessments by providing an enhanced description of resources-in-place by assessing the impact of extracting natural resources on the depletion or preservation of other natural resources within a defined geographic area. The USGS identifies three major components to a multi-resource analysis (Figure 1-1):
- Baseline: integrated information on the current status of multiple natural resources including ecosystem services
- Functional Relationships: models describing the interrelationships among collocated resources
- Scenarios: analyses evaluating the impacts and tradeoffs to the natural resources in biophysical and socioeconomic terms
The first component is similar to a traditional resource assessment; that is, an inventory of undiscovered and technically recoverable resources. This inventory is enhanced to provide information on multiple natural resources such as oil, water, and pollination in an integrated format. This component includes characteristics similar to a traditional resource assessment such as quantity, quality, and values (or prices) associated with the individual resources; nonmarket values for ecosystem services may need to be considered in this enhanced approach. The second component provides information on the interrelationships among resources in biophysical terms when a resource is developed or extracted. This component moves beyond traditional resource assessments and includes integrated models incorporating the geologic, hydrologic, biological, and ecological sciences. The third component is designed to inform decision makers on the potential biophysical and socioeconomic impacts to the natural resources being studied, given alternative scenarios.
The multi-resource analysis approach responds to guidance described in the Department of the Interior’s Secretarial Order 33303; however, SDC has identi-
3 Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued Secretarial Order Number 3330 “Improving Mitigation Policies and Practices of the Department of the Interior” in October 2013.
FIGURE 1-1 The three components of multi-resorce analysis as identified by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
SOURCE: Image provided courtesy of the USGS.
fied several significant challenges associated with establishing MRA, which include developing
- models or impact functions describing the biophysical consequences of development or extraction of a natural resource on other natural resources and ecosystem services;
- production and recovery functions describing changes in ecosystem service delivery as natural capital is degraded, preserved, or restored;
- economic and management scenarios that are relevant to future decisions;
- studies to estimate changes in monetary and non-monetary values, given scenario-based impacts to multiple natural resources; and
- multidisciplinary teams that communicate and collaborate effectively.
The SDC has initiated two exploratory proof-of-concept projects to advance MRA and demonstrate its feasibility (see Chapter 5). The first project is being developed in the Powder River Basin that is taking a staged approach to develop products to address MRA components. An illustrative model of an integrated, map-based baseline inventory of multiple natural resources has been completed. A series of meetings was held with diverse stakeholders at USGS headquarters and field offices at other agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The baseline product and conceptual models for the analysis of the interrelationships between natural resources were discussed. Feedback from these meetings is being used to design and develop a pilot-scale model for the Powder River Basin, which will include an integrated analysis of the interrelationships among multiple natural resources under different scenarios.
The second proof-of-concept project the USGS is developing is the Net Resource Assessment (NetRA), which is a scenario-based decision support tool that will enable simultaneous consideration of multiple natural resources to inform national and regional decisions. The NetRA tool will model interrelationships among the natural resources incorporating the economic implications of alternative scenarios. A conceptual framework was developed in 2014 and current efforts are focused on developing a proof-of-concept systems dynamics tool in the Piceance Basin in northwestern Colorado. The tool will estimate the impacts of energy and mineral development on water and biological resources and their ability to provide ecosystem services. The NetRA will enable consideration of multiple natural resources under baseline conditions, examination of their interrelationships, and examination of the impacts if one or more of the natural resources are developed. The NetRA is being developed collaboratively by the USGS, University of New Mexico, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory.
Building on these examples, the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
convened a planning committee to organize and hold a workshop on using landscape-based approaches and MRA to better inform federal decision making for the sustainable management of natural resources. The workshop was held on June 2, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The workshop was organized around discussions of knowledge gaps and priority areas for research and presentations of case studies of approaches that have been used to effectively integrate landscape-based approaches and MRA into practice. The workshop was organized into five main panels (see Appendix A: Workshop Agenda):
- Keynote Panel: Decision-Oriented Approaches to Natural Resource Management
- Identifying Needs and Challenges for Landscape and Multi-Resource Analyses
- Methods for Spatial Analysis: Identifying Scenarios
- Methods for Evaluating Scenarios: Reconciling Quantities and Values
- Multi-Disciplinary and Cross-Agency Synthesis
Although the workshop was divided into sequential panels to facilitate discussion of these topics, it should be noted that the panel topics are interrelated and do not follow such an order in practice; USGS recognizes that MRA requires the integration of these concepts. The last panel addressing multi-disciplinary and cross-agency integration, for example, was a discussion of key considerations that need to be addressed at the outset of any MRA. The workshop included participants from federal agencies, policy makers, and the broader scientific community in an exchange of how to incorporate landscape approaches and MRA into the sustainable management of natural resources.
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