Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)


Tools for assessment, planning and management of ecological sustainability in riverine landscapes : a critical evaluation

Törnblom, Johan


Forest and river management requires appropriate, practical and reliable tools for working towards ecological sustainability at different spatial scales. However, there is insufficient knowledge and lack of such multi-level tools to be applied at the scale of watersheds, sub-catchments and stream segments. This reviewpresents appearing conceptual frameworks forming a hierarchical approach forconcerning the assessment, planning and management of ecosystem integrity of riverine landscapes. Ideally such frameworks should be developed based on an active adaptive management approach that links governance, management and monitoring in iterated cycles. Gap analysis is a tool for strategic assessment of the extent to which environmental policies succeed in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity by protection, management and restoration of habitats. Ideally a gap analysis should also evaluate monitoring programs and propose new perspectives and tools for proper management of ecological integrity by various formal and informal institutions at multiple temporal and spatial scales. In the next step tactical planning Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) modelling is a useful tool. This requires combining spatially explicit land cover data with quantitative knowledge about the requirements of specialized species using geographical information systems. The result is spatially explicit maps describing the probability that a species is found in a landscape. Finally, operational management is needed. Historically, many stream rehabilitation projects have not realized their anticipated benefits because the primary cause of degradation – i.e. poor land use management – was not adequately recognized. Insights that restoration management should be designed for each watershed, based on basin wide analyses of historical conditions, trends and causal factors have appeared. Nevertheless monitoring and research must become more systematic about how much is enough of different structures and processes at multiple spatial scales to secure ecological integrity. Only then can true assessments be made. Land-use patterns affect both the form and the function of the rivers throughout the world, yet these effects are little recognized or understood. Hence, there is a need to review quantitative knowledge about relationships between specialized riparian, semi-aquatic and aquatic species and spatially explicit land cover data describing the history of terrestrial land use, water regimes and fluvial dynamics. In this way hypotheses can be tested, and thresholds and performance targets be formulated for the requirements of viable populations of all naturally occurring species, and thus to maintain sustainable riverine landscapes. Finally, the extent to which adaptive management approaches are adopted by different institutions should be evaluated

Published in

Rapport / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Vattenbruksinstitutionen
2006, number: 52
Publisher: Vattenbruksinstitutionen, SLU

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Permanent link to this page (URI)