Summary and Critique by: Ian Abplanalp
SummaryMichael D. Jennings in his article took a problem of how to better assess the distribution and conservation efforts. Jennings proposed a gap analysis of a multi-state conservation analysis (confusingly called GAP). Jennings focused on improving the conservation analysis, by determining the external forces that shaped natural resource management of GAP as it exists presently, the direction as well as the goals of GAP, then defined how the results of the gap analysis could be utilized.
Jennings first assed the five factors shaping natural resource management of GAP. The primary factor discussed was the rise in environmental change now taking place, and at a rate much higher than previously seen before. The second factor is the adoption and application of holistic models for the management of natural resources. Thirdly Jennings, addresses an increase of technology advancements in planning, research, that provided larger amounts of raw data that can be disseminated in new ways. The fourth factor is an ever changing political and social climate. The last factor is how the previous four factors are changing the way that resource professionals and their institutions are conducting business. Jennings also illustrates that along with these factors a systematic approach to ecological information across large areas of the GAP program are lacking.
After laying out where GAP stands, Jennings lays down a pair of goals. The first of which would be to "identify areas critical for the protection of biological resources". This would help identify conservation statuses of different plants and animals in varying areas. The second goal is to use the knowledge gained through the first goal to leverage a larger group effort to target these areas deemed most critical. Jennings outlines that this would take a large investment from personal member of the conservation community to put aside differences and work collaboratively to best protect the environment.
Jennings, the develops what would be an ideal path for the conservation community to take. GAP would need to move in a more unified direction among the conservation community. This would be aided through the new and improved way to generate and disseminated data, through mapping. The conservation community would also like to decrease the discrepancies of accuracy, and scale of conservation efforts amongst themselves by putting aside past differences. GAP would also like to include more interest in their program by incorporating more states to participate within the program. These steps would help improve the unity of GAP and further aid conservation practices.
Jennings, lastly outlines how the results of a gap analysis could be utilized in a manner to more efficiently handle conservation efforts. The results could be used in three ways the first of which is that professional resource planners and land managers could use the data provided to more accurately assess areas in their everyday work. Secondly agencies could apply results to new conservation lands or changing management of current conservation lands. Third is that planners can take a larger statewide approach to looking at biodiversity management.
CritiqueJennings overall shows how useful and adaptive gap analysis can be to many different situations and fields. Jennings shows the diversity of gap analysis methodology, through stretching it from its business roots and applying it to an ecological problem. Jennings makes this methodology applicable to a multitude of field by using it only by identifying where the conservation economy is and where it would like to go. Spreading to more than one field makes this methodology a powerful tool as anyone can take an honest look at where they are, were they would like to go, and whats missing in-between. The methodology is also a useful tool to use that it can be applied mid-process to adjust a project to better answer questions, or give guidance to an entirely new problem.
The methodology is limited in that only individuals that have information readily available to them about factors that are influencing their current state. For example if someone uses this methodology without knowing the proper factors or misjudging which factors are influencing their situation will cause them to potentially miss their goal. Also if no clear goal is established there will not be an accurate way to assess the steps needed to be taken after determining which forces are influencing one's situation.
Gap analysis today: A confluence of biology, ecology, and geography for management of biological resources