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MA10 Policy, Assessment, and Management
() Monitoring in Support of Sustainability by the United States Government.
Shields, D1, 1 USDA Forest Service Research and Development, Ft Collins, CO, USA
ABSTRACT- Although the United States does not have a formal sustainability policy, the concepts of sustainable development are being incorporated in a variety of ways into the strategic plans, management directives, and monitoring regimes of many Federal agencies. Measuring and monitoring the current situation and trends in key variables are essential to sustainability because we need to understand the current situation, make an informed choices about which tangibles should persist in time and space, or how, when and for whom to sustain them. The question remains, what to measure. The United States collects information on many aspects of the economy, the environment and society. Much of this information is collected as a result of prior societal concerns and is in a form that tells us little about sustainability. As a result, the data, though often useful, are inadequate for present needs. The U.S government has been reconsidering what should be monitored, how monitoring should take place, and the types of administrative organizations that would most efficiently and effectively collect and manage a broad national database of information about the biosphere and society. This paper will review current data collection efforts and describe the work of the national Roundtables on Sustainable Forests, Minerals, Rangelands, and Water Resources, as well as the Heinz and EPA reports on the state of the environment. The Roundtables are identifying indicators of sustainability for their respective resources areas. The latter reports are based on existing information. Finally, a proposal by the Presidents Council on Environmental Quality for a national set of core indicators will be described. The purpose of these indicators would be to provide information on environmental and social conditions in much the same way that the national income and product accounts, and GDP, inform Americans about our economic health.
Key words: roundtables, monitoring, sustainability, indicators
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