Human settlement and land management have radically altered the composition and structure of eastern Washington forests. Restoring high-functioning landscapes and habitat patterns have broad implications for the future sustainability of native species, ecosystem services, and ecosystem processes. Many land managers and scientists have turned their attention to whole landscapes to decipher key changes in the terrestrial and aquatic systems. A goal is to formulate landscape level prescriptions for re-establishing broad functionality and resilience to disturbances and changing climate.
Recognizing the need to simplify and expedite the process of landscape evaluation, a team of scientists and managers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station and the Okanogan-WenatcheeNational Forest piloted the first application of the Ecosystem Management Decision Support (EMDS) software in support of a restoration project in eastern Washington. By interpreting and synthesizing large volumes of information about complex, multifaceted problems, EMDS enabled the team to (1) transparently evaluate departures of key landscape patterns and processes from historical and climate change reference conditions, and (2) formulate and compare landscape restoration prescriptions before implementing them.
EMDS is currently being implemented throughout four million acres of the Okanogan-WenatcheeNational Forest. It is also being used in other restoration projects throughout the Northwest and internationally.