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Tracking Progress: The Monitoring Process Used in Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Projects in the Pacific Northwest

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Several trends have emerged in recent years that affect the management of the National Forest System, particularly in the western U.S. One is the recognition of landscapes departed from a natural range of variation, especially with implications for wildfire management. Another trend is the economic decline in many rural communities of the western U.S., particularly those based on natural resource activities such as timber production. Finally, there is increasing acceptance of collaborative approaches to forest management. Collaborative approaches endeavor to increase mutual learning among previously polarized parties, find consensus to accomplish objectives, and improve the quality of public participation while addressing recent landscape and socioeconomic concerns. Within collaborative approaches, monitoring often plays a prominent role and can be used to strengthen communication and consensus among diverse groups by tracking a learning process rather than individual stakeholder interests. This tracking of progress can be used as a part of social learning to serve as a form of social contract among the stakeholder groups. It reflects agreements on how to proceed in landscape management, identifies how well agreements are being met, and serves as a neutral approach for determining effectiveness. Monitoring and learning processes can help diffuse conflict by using field evidence to focus on what is actually happening.Monitoring has a long history in resource management.3 Federal land management agencies and partners such as The Nature Conservancy have a long record of monitoring the effectiveness of management actions.4 However, monitoring has also faced challenges and shortcomings in past efforts with concerns that include: 1) monitoring objectives that are poorly defined and constructed;5 2) a lack of broad user and stakeholder involvement in the monitoring process;6 3) a lack of institutional funding and support for monitoring;7 4) unrealistic monitoring goals and expectations;8 5) a lack of prompt reporting on monitoring results to agency leadership and the public;9 and 6) an approach to monitoring that is solely from a research perspective.10

T. Demeo

Demeo T. Tracking Progress: The Monitoring Process Used in Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Projects in the Pacific Northwest. (Markus A).; 2015.