||Ecosystems, whether naturally occurring or human-maintained, are a dynamic and complex interaction of microbes, animals, plants, and multiple edaphic factors. To be effective, land managers must interpret and apply knowledge from several biological and ecological science disciplines. Information is typically compiled from various sources that deal with the particular parts of the natural system of interest to the manager, and then she or he must reconcile the sometimes seemingly unrelated parts into a whole that can help with decision making. Ecological site descriptions (ESD) provide information relating the interactions of soils, vegetation, animals, and land management. Therefore, ESD is a tool that can aid in the classification of diverse ecosystem components, and when well developed, can make conservation planning, ecosystem restoration, and land management easier. They can be useful for understanding the condition of a historic plant community, how that may differ from a current state, and provide options for moving from one state to another. Central to the ESD is a state and transition model which seeks to capture possible vegetation states that exist on the site, thresholds of change and pathways for moving between states. An introduction to ESD will be presented, in addition to a discussion of their usefulness to the land manager, and initial attempts at developing an ESD for longleaf pine communities.