Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study Shows Extent of Land Degradation and Recovery on Western Rangelands

05.10.2010
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a new study by scientists and conservationists showing that non-federal rangelands in the Western United States are productive, but that non-native grasses and shrubs pose a potential threat to the rangelands’ productivity.

“American ranchers and farmers are at the front line of the effort to protect the health and productivity of our western rangelands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This new study not only provides valuable information about the current state of these lands, but also sets a baseline that will enable USDA to make our conservation efforts more effective and efficient in the future.”

The study, which was published today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was the result of collaboration between two USDA agencies--the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)--and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study reveals that less than 25 percent of non-federal rangelands have significant land degradation, but that non-native plant species now occur on nearly 50 percent of all non-federal rangeland. While some of these species have significant benefits for soil conservation, others have negative effects. The study evaluated more than 10,000 field plots across western rangelands using National Resources Inventory (NRI) data. The NRI is a statistical survey designed to help gauge natural resource status, conditions and trends on U.S. non-federal land.

For this study, the authors developed a new system for collecting NRI data to provide land managers with a baseline for making objective assessments. The system, developed by ARS, NRCS, USGS and the Bureau of Land Management, is designed to help land managers monitor western rangelands. It will also ensure the land remains productive by using scientific and local knowledge to establish reference conditions for different types of rangeland.

Rangelands across the western United States support productive ecosystems, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested each year in public and private funds to manage and conserve them. Because rangelands are highly diverse, their accurate assessments depend on understanding how different types of land vary in potential for supporting productive ecosystems while limiting runoff and erosion.

“These findings will provide a new tool for addressing how to monitor the vast tracts that stretch across the western United States and ensure that they are well used and remain productive,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator.

“We have gained a great deal of knowledge about the health of U.S. rangelands with this study,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “NRCS can use this knowledge to improve our policies and technical skills to better serve landowners and taxpayers.”

The collected quantitative data can be used as a baseline to monitor rangeland health in future studies such as the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). CEAP is a long-term effort designed to determine the environmental effects of conservation practices on agricultural lands. CEAP also can be used to set a course for future conservation action.

Additional details appear in the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment paper, available online at http://www.frontiersinecology.org/, and in an NRI report released by NRCS, available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/nri.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. NRCS is celebrating 75 years of helping people help the land.

Dennis O'Brien | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ars.usda.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

Im Focus: Scientists improve forecast of increasing hazard on Ecuadorian volcano

Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).

The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Transporting spin: A graphene and boron nitride heterostructure creates large spin signals

16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues

16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>