New USFWS Guide Offers Recommended Practices for Developing Landscape Conservation Designs
For practitioners looking to develop, facilitate, or participate in a landscape conservation design (LCD) process, the new Recommended Practices for Landscape Conservation Design guide leverages the knowledge, years of experience working on landscape-scale conservation issues, and the legacy of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. The guide can serve as a reference and springboard for those seeking to implement broad-scale, multi-species conservation; collaborate and share data across regions and states; and incorporate human dimensions into the landscape.
The guide contains five sections covering major themes in LCD. Each section describes vetted practices that one or more LCCs used in their LCD work; provides resources for further information; and presents a case study where the practices have been implemented. The practices are arranged in a logical order, but are not necessarily chronological. Successful LCD requires participants to revisit and refine their work; therefore, embracing iteration is an overarching theme of the process.
Section 1: “Initiating Landscape Conservation Design” recommends sound practices to implement from the outset of an LCD, such as seeking leadership support. This section also identifies actions to take at multiple points in the design process, such as evaluating compatibility with neighboring LCDs. Case study: Connect the Connecticut and Nature's Network
Section 2: “Convene Stakeholders and Frame the Landscape Conservation Design” focuses on people — how to bring people to the table and how to keep them engaged. This section offers advice for establishing a governance structure, building trust, and setting deadlines, among other topics. It also describes essential steps that can harness the power of multidisciplinary participants, such as identifying stressors, agreeing on indicators, and defining objectives. Case study: High Divide Collaborative
Section 3: “Assess Current and Future Desired Conditions” addresses how to use best available knowledge to characterize the current conditions of landscape elements that are important to stakeholders and forecast what may happen to them in the future, and understand what partners see as desirable outcomes. It describes techniques for identifying important drivers of change on the landscape, dealing with uncertainty, and developing plausible characterizations of the future. Case study: State of the South Atlantic
Section 4: “Spatial Design” describes how to identify where on the landscape desired functions and opportunities exist — or could exist. It provides guidance on assembling a technical team to carry out these tasks and lists actions the team should take to ensure they generate products that are both useful and widely accepted. Case study: Appalachian Mountains and Western River Basin
Section 5: “Strategy Design” explains how to arrive at a design that stakeholders can use to decide which actions to take and where and when to take them. It describes products that can help partners implement desired actions such as timelines, a list of funding sources, and a monitoring plan. Case study: Columbia Plateau/Arid Lands Initiative Strategic Design
The recommendations, findings, and conclusions in the guide are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo: The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, the only refuge to encompass an entire watershed, is part of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Northeastern watersheds were the focus of the "Connect the Connecticut" case study from Section 1. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service