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Ecological Expections: Keep the Math Simple

Jim Smith 8/1/2011


During the season of annual performance reviews, our thoughts turn to “expectations.”  We all understand what that means in our daily lives, and they are pervasive: expectations of ourselves, our supervisor, our colleagues, our family and our friends.  We wrestle with how to set our expectations, and how to measure our progress toward them.  That is what a performance review is all about -- comparing what we have done against what we hoped to accomplish.

We also have ecological expectations -- we just call them something else.  Perhaps we call our ecological expectations “goals,” or “desired future conditions.”  We also struggle with how to set our ecological goals -- our desired future conditions -- and how to measure our progress toward them.

The TNC LANDFIRE Team and our internal and external partners are suggesting that, very often at least, computing “Ecological Departure” is like doing a performance review on our ecological expectations.  First, we set our ecological expectations (desired future conditions).  Then we determine where we are (current ecological condition).  The difference between the two is Ecological Departure. Don’t worry about the arithmetic right now -- adding and subtracting is all you need!

There will be a proverbial devil lurking in the details -- we won’t dispute that. But let’s worry about the details when we have a specific situation.  Just consider the concept right now -- plain, clean, and lucid!  What is the condition we want?  What is the condition we have?  What is the difference?  Aha --Ecological Departure.

Don’t complicate the departure concept -- keep it simple.  Just like a good blog.

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