Integrated Ecological Framework


Through a research project funded by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academy of Sciences, INR and its national partners developed an ecological assessment process and framework to integrate conservation planning and transportation planning.

The project resulted in a nine-step “Integrated Ecological Framework” (IEF) that:

  1. takes into account the barriers transportation agencies experience when working to implement ecological approaches to transportation planning, and the scientific and technical processes needed to implement ecological approaches;
  2. brings together a variety of well-tested methods, data, and tools into a cohesive ecological assessment framework
  3. takes into account regulatory assurances for resources regulated under the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act; and
  4. provides guidance about how transportation agencies could develop and use ecosystem crediting systems and markets.

For each step in the IEF, critical data needs and a number of tools that could greatly facilitate implementation of the Framework were identified.

The IEF is a congruent technical framework to the Eco-Logical approach, developed by eight Federal agencies in 2006, which recommends a collaborative, integrated, watershed or ecosystem scale approach to decision-making during infrastructure planning, environmental review, and permitting. The IEF is linked to the transportation decision guide on the Transportation for Communities (TCAPP) website.


Research to Practice

  • The IEF has been piloted in Oregon, West Virginia, Colorado, and California
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have selected the IEF (the SHRP-C06 project) for national implementation.


Project Team




This project is funded by the Transportation Research Board’s Strategic Highway Research Program of the National Academy of Sciences.

Project Number: SHRP2-C06B