Land managers in the western US are beginning to understand that early 20th century forests displayed complex patterns of composition and structure at several different spatial scales, that there was interplay between patterns and processes within and across scales, and that these conditions have been radically altered by management. Further, they know that restoring integrity (see Definition of Terms) of these conditions has broad implications for the future sustainability (see Definition of Terms) of native species, ecosystem services, and ecological processes. Many are looking for methods to restore (see Definition of Terms) more natural landscape patterns of habitats and more naturally functioning disturbance regimes; all in the context of a warming climate. Attention is turning to evaluating whole landscapes at local and regional scales, deciphering recent changes in trajectories, and formulating landscape prescriptions that can restore ecological functionality and improve landscape resilience (see Definition of Terms). The business of landscape evaluation and developing landscape prescriptions is inherently complex, but with the advent of decision support systems, software applications are now available to conduct and document these evaluations. Here, we review several published landscape evaluation and planning applications designed with the Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) software, and present an evaluation we developed in support of a landscape restoration project. We discuss the goals and design of the project, its methods and utilities, what worked well, what could be improved and related research opportunities. For readability and compactness, fine and broad-scale landscape evaluations that could be a part of multi-scale restoration planning, are not further developed here.
Hessburg, Paul F.; Reynolds, Keith M.; Salter, R. Brion; Dickinson, James D.; Gaines, William L.; Harrod, Richy J. 2013. Landscape evaluation for restoration planning on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, USA. Sustainability. 5(3): 805-840.