Ecological succession theory can be used in land-use planning to develop self-maintaining systems that meet conservation needs. This paper presents a management succession model and outlines methods that can be applied to regional land-use, rangeland, and agro-ecosystem, management. Traditionally, succession has been viewed as a repeatable and deterministic change in an ecosystem. Unlike the traditional view, the management succession model suggests that the successional process can be regulated to develop management designed communities. The model is based on current succession theory and consists of five steps; designed disturbance, selective colonization, inhibitory persistence, removal, and regeneration. Through the steps of the model, community interactions, life-history characteristics, and those abiotic factors that are to some extent controllable, are manipulated. The objective in manipulating these factors is to regulate successional sequences and rates of species replacement.
To implement these steps a management practice, such as burning, can be used as a designed disturbance. The timing, intensity, and extent, of burning are regulated to insure that ‘selected colonizers’ become established. The design of the disturbance, and the selection of species and proportions of colonizers, is based upon the type of community structure that is wanted. Often a stable, persisting community is the goal. How long a community persists can be controlled by planned removal, which deliberately interrupts a successional sequence. The removal process can, in itself, be considered a type of disturbance, and can be used to regulate subsequent successional sequences and rates of replacement. In some instances a regenerating community is the goal, and management efforts can be adjusted to prevent successional sequences from occurring.