Bryce, Sandra A., James M. Omernik, and David P. Larsen. 1999. Ecoregions: A geographic framework to guide risk characterization and ecosystem management. Environmental Practice, Journal of the National Association of Environmental Professionals 1(3):142-155.
Two central tenets of the ecosystem management paradigm are integrity and sustainability. Recognizing , maintaining, and/or restoring ecosystem integrity and sustainability present a major challenge to those attempting to implement an ecosystem approach to management. One way to begin to define and apply these concepts is to become familiar with the status of the ecosystems in question through characterization. Characterization involves spatial definition as well as a description of ecosystem qualities and behavior. An ecoregion framework is a characterization tool appropriate for describing an ecosystems natural potential and variability as well as its typical response to various human disturbances. Using examples from the mid-Atlantic Highland region of the United States, we discuss the merits of using ecoregions both as an organizing framework that identifies region-specific disturbances and risks to ecosystems and as a reporting framework for interpreting research and assessment results. With an ecoregion approach, land managers can develop management strategies that are consistent with regional expectations and predictive of ecosystem response to various land use practices.