Rangeland Vegetation Management and Restoration

October 05, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Written by Rachel Frost, Montana State University

Sometimes the present plant community on a site may not meet a landowner's needs for managing livestock, wildlife, or ecosystem health.  When this happens, managers may take steps to change the vegetation structure or composition to meet their needs or restore the vegetation to its natural state. Below are links to important concepts of vegetation management, and examples of how one can manipulate vegetation to achieve specific land management goals.

The Vegetation and Soil Complex

Knowing the soils, climate and potential of an area to produce vegetation is the basis for all vegetation manipulation.  Managers must also understand how specific vegetation communities respond to disturbance in order to create the plant community they desire on the landscape. See the links below to learn more about ecological sites on rangelands and how land managers can use State and Transition Models to make decisions.

The Goals of Vegetation Management

No vegetation management project should be undertaken without clear goals for the final landscape being defined.  Some of the most common reasons to manipulate vegetation are listed below with links to more detailed descriptions of why and how to achieve these goals.

Tools Used to Manage & Manipulate Vegetation

There are numerous ways to manipulate vegetation and no single method is best for every situation.  The links below provide more information on the attributes of each tool including: when and where it can be used, how effective it is, as well as information on the relative cost of applying that specific vegetation management tool.

  • Fire as a management tool
  • Herbicides
  • Herbivory and rest
  • Mechanical tools
  • Cultural tools

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.