Integrated Natural Ressources Management is Integrated Disaster Management: Developing the Watershed Community Resilience Index.
Chris S. Renschler, Geography, University at Buffalo (SUNY), National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) / MCEER, 105 Wilkeson Quad, Buffalo, NY 14261-0023
Field studies, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems and process-based environmental models are increasingly used in combination to support decision- and policy-making in natural resources or natural hazards management. The impact of extreme events on properties and processes of natural and managed ecosystems and its short- and long-term consequences have to be continuously assessed by a well coordinated interdisciplinary research and outreach activity. The communication between the various disciplines and stakeholders involved is therefore the most important key to a successful implementation of an integrated management plan. The development and integration of an integrated Watershed Community Resilience Index (WCRI) includes quantifying the status, exposure and recovery of physical, economic, socio-cultural, and ecological capital for a watershed community. The goal of this project is the development of a conceptual framework for measuring, assessing, and monitoring the WCRI, a toolkit that integrates quantitative and qualitative methods using spatial and non-spatial data to identify scientifically defensible indicators for community resilience, and an implementation plan that enables local and regional stakeholders to continuously monitor and enhance their resilience against episodic and slow-onset extreme events. The design and successful implementation of the Geospatial Interface for the Water Erosion Prediction Project (GeoWEPP) at the watershed scale illustrates the challenges and solutions to build valid and useful assessment tools for cumulative watershed effects analysis. The great interest of the forest and rangeland management community in using GeoWEPP resulted in two successful consecutive grant proposals to the interagency Joint Fires Science Program to use GeoWEPP for post-fire rehabilitation of watersheds and as a fuel reduction tool to spatially and temporally schedule management activities in watersheds. Aspects of this research were selected for funding by the NOAA Cooperative Program for Climate and Weather Impacts on Society and the Environment to assess communities along the US coast of the Gulf of Mexico.