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Summarized Comments and Author Responses: TERRA-2

Comment no. 18:

Despite more than 12 years of direct funding by the Southern Region of the US Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) International [sic] Classification of Plant Communities was on one hand acknowledged as a very important contribution to conservation, but, on the other hand, was not apparently used in any of the analyses. Moreover, the use of TNC's Rare Plant Communities of the Conterminous United States published in 1995 is a serious oversight given the amount of updated information easily obtained on the Natureserve website ( www.natureserve.org). The classification of Noss et al. is too coarse for a meaningful analysis and we urge you to use the TNC classification at at [sic] least a functional level. -- Draft Report

Response by Wayne Owen:

The Southern Region places great value in the potential future use of the TNC National Vegetation Classification (NVC), however, to date it has been little used by any large land management agency or group. Therefore, summary information at either the alliance or association level for an area such as the Southern Region is not available. The NatureServe website provides significant information about specific communities, and it a valuable resource, but did not suit the information needs of the TERRA-2 chapter assignment. As the Forest Service and other agencies continue to more toward greater use of the NVC, it will become increasingly important and useful for land management planning and assessments such as SFRA. I share the commenter's concern about the level of resolution in the Noss et al. paper. However, that is not the same as saying that it does not contain useful information. As indicated in the bibliography of TERRA-2, there have been several books written on the plant communities of the Southern States. TERRA-2 is a summary of the history of native plant communities and in that context, a discussion focusing on generalities in trends and conditions was most appropriate. I certainly could have gone on at much greater length on a variety of subjects (especially the impact on bioregional diversity patterns by agriculture, plantation forestry, and invasive species; recreation impacts on native plant communities; the differences between private and public management of rare plant communities) but was constrained by the limitations imposed by both space and context. I appreciate NCED's concern and would encourage them to remain actively involved in advocacy for the conservation and restoration of the native plant communities of the region. I think TERRA-2 provided a meaningful summary of how our existing plant communities came to the condition we find them in today. And, although that history is not always a pretty one, it serves as a useful place to start understanding (for all the various interests involved) the nature of the work ahead to achieve the goals/objectives of both public and private lands. -- Final Report

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