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Chapter 6: Using the framework

The sequence of actions required to develop a complete Action Framework for detailed sustainability evaluation is shown below and, more succinctly, in the Flow Chart which follows:

Summary of actions:

1. Define the PURPOSE:

1.1 Define location aspect of OBJECTIVE statement

[1.2 Fully characterize physical, biological, economic and social aspects of the location site]

[1.3 Confirm 'suitability' of present land use on the site (using FAO Framework for Land Evaluation); includes adjusting management inputs, as necessary, to ensure present 'suitability']

NOTE: Activities 1.2 and 1.3, shown in [ ], are external to the FESLM.

1.4 Define 'land use purpose' aspect of OBJECTIVE statement (from details confirmed at 1.3)

1.5 Define management and other inputs in MEANS statement (from details confirmed at 1.3)

NOTE: 1.4 together with 1.5 define USE 1 of the FESLM

2. Off-site change: Complete rapid overview of areas surrounding the site for evidence of impending change that may influence sustainability on the site itself ('passive' off-site effects). Particular attention to possible changes in regional hydrology, infrastructure, pests and diseases, and human population distribution.

3. Apply the ANALYSIS levels of the FESLM to parameters of the physical environment

3.1 EVALUATION FACTORS: List physical environmental attributes (qualities/characteristics) relevant to sustainability of USE 1; by selection from those listed in the Master Framework or, failing this, from those which formed the basis of 'suitability' evaluation (1.3) and adding any additional qualities/characteristics thought to be relevant to the sustainability of USE 1.

3.2 DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA: Apply cause/effect considerations to break down complex Evaluation Factors (identified in 3.1) into component attributes and seek evidence for trends of change in these attributes with time, by:

• present observation of the site itself
• examining historic records relevant to the site
• comparing effects of closely comparable uses on closely comparable sites elsewhere
• considering theoretical models that embrace circumstances similar to USE 1 on the defined site. Make any necessary observations, measurements, tests etc. to establish or confirm any suspected trends of change

3.3 INDICATORS and THRESHOLDS: From the evidence of cause and effect, and observations made (in 3.2), seek to identify and, where possible, quantify, physical INDICATORS, THRESHOLDS and related CRITERIA which will help in assessing, and later in monitoring, the sustainability of USE 1 on the defined site.

4. Apply the Method Statements of the FESLM to parameters of the biological environment

4.1 to 4.3 Activities precisely analogous to 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, but pertaining to biological environments are undertaken.

5. Apply the Method Statements of the FESLM to parameters of the economic environment

5.1 to 5.3 Activities precisely analogous to 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, but pertaining to economic environments are undertaken.

6. Apply the Method Statements of the FESLM to parameters of the social environment

6.1 to 6.3 Activities precisely analogous to 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, but pertaining to social environments are undertaken.

[NOTE: Activities 4 to 6, relating to separate environmental fields, can be undertaken concurrently, or in any sequence-depending on the availability of the necessary expertise.]

7. Off-site effects: Determine in what way, if any, planned activities on the site will affect surrounding areas in the future (active off-site effects). If these effects are deemed unacceptable, the USE must be ruled unsustainable.

8. FINAL ANALYSIS: Form a judgement on the sustainability of USE 1 by drawing together the evidence exposed by activities 3 through 6, (modified as need be by evidence gained by activities 2 and 7) with particular reference to threshold values of indicator attributes.


9.1 Form a judgement (from the rapidity of trends etc.) on the time period in years over which USE 1 is likely to remain sustainable. Enter this information in the OBJECTIVE statement.

9.2 Final Validation

9.3 Assessment End Point. Report to 'client'


10.1 Re-examine results of activities 4 through 6 to determine whether the causes of instability could possibly be offset by changes in the management practices or other inputs prescribed in the MEANS statement for USE 1. (For example, if erosion is a particular threat, consider strengthening anti-erosion methods.) If so;

10.2 Redefine the MEANS statement accordingly, confirm present suitability (land evaluation) and repeat the whole FESLM analysis for USE 2. Repeat for USE 3; USE 4, etc. if this seems justified.

NOTE: The gamut of possible change is huge and caution is needed to avoid 'improved' management proposals that would be socio-economically inappropriate or otherwise unworthy of analysis.

10.3 Report to client on how the OBJECTIVE can be sustainably achieved (USE 2?,3?,4?) - or advise a complete change of land use!

FIGURE 4: The flow chart

FIGURE 4: The flow chart (continued 1)

FIGURE 4: The flow chart (continued 2)

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