Critical areas are sampling locations deliberately chosen in rangeland inventory or monitoring programs because of unique values or special concerns such as riparian zones, restricted habitats for threatened or endangered species, or range sites highly susceptible to erosion.
Unlike key areas, vegetation responses observed in critical areas are not interpreted to reflect management impacts over the entire management unit. Instead, critical areas are evaluated separately to ensure the fulfillment of specific goals that are associated with resource conservation.
References and Further Reading
Bureau of Land Management. 1996. Sampling vegetation attributes. Interagency Technical Reference, BLM/RS/ST-96/002+1730. pp 2-3.
Smith, E.L., and G.B. Ruyle. 1991. Considerations When Monitoring Rangeland Vegetation. G.B. Ruyle. (ed). Some methods for monitoring rangelands and other natural area vegetation. University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, Extension Report 9043. pp 2-3.