Daily blatant lying has become the norm. Letting lies lie can be dangerous if left to become a false reality. This can be particularly damaging when making decisions at the soil surface.
My neighbor in Wyoming pointed out this tendency to me years ago. Clyde told me that when something happens, it seems so significant that we can’t imagine ever forgetting. Yet, time has a tendency to warp our memory to shade the event in more dramatic or rosy hues. Monitoring can clear the lens of our perception.
After my first Holistic Management training, I came home with a new awareness of ecosystem function. I became certain that our water cycle was dragging down our ranch’s land health. After establishing permanent trend and condition transects, it became obvious that the mineral cycle was the most dysfunctional part of our landscape.
As old-time holistic manager, Greg Simonds famously said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This seems obvious but more importantly we need data to interrupt confirmation bias, develop a line of discussion for the uninformed, prepare a check and balance for the mis-informed, and establish a line of defense for the bullies. These characters may even be us.
A changing planet brings more scrutiny to land managers’ results. Many complex indicators weave an ecosystems tapestry beneath our feet and we cannot expect to make solid management decisions without knowing a site’s stability and/or trend. The question is not whether we should monitor our ecosystem health but how best to establish a baseline and monitor our context over time.
We have data, where’s yours?