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Designing Sustainable Landscapes, Phase 1

Assessment of Landscape Changes in the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Decision Support Tools for Conservation (Phase 1)

The purpose of this project was to assess the capability of current and potential future landscapes to provide integral ecosystems and suitable habitat for a suite of representative species, and provide guidance for strategic habitat conservation. Part of the project included a comparison and evaluation of a representative (focal) species approach against a coarse filter (ecosystem-based) approach to biodiversity conservation to assess what set of complementary approaches are most effective. This was an 18-month first phase that focused on three pilot watersheds and initial model development.

Project Scope and Objectives

This project is designed to support the overall goals of the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC), which are as follows:

  1. Assess the current capability of habitats in the NALCC to support sustainable populations of wildlife;
  2. Predict the impacts of landscape-level changes (e.g., from urban growth, conservation programs, climate change, etc.) on the future capability of these habitats to support wildlife populations;
  3. Target conservation programs to effectively and efficiently achieve objectives in State Wildlife Action Plans and other conservation plans and evaluate progress under these plans; and
  4. Enhance coordination among partners during the planning, implementation and evaluation of habitat conservation through conservation design.

 

While the focus of this scope of work is #1 and #2 above, the NALCC modeling framework we develop will provide the basis for #3 (and #4) in the long term. Thus, the modeling framework will ultimately allow us to assess landscape change, assess changes in ecological integrity and habitat capability for representative species, and allow us to identify priorities for land protection (i.e., what lands to protect to get the biggest bang for the buck) and conservation priorities for existing conservation lands (i.e., what should be the management priorities on each conservation tract).

 

In this context, the specific objectives of this scope of work are as follows:

  1. Develop a landscape change (LC) model for the NALCC that will allow us to assess landscape change and the corresponding changes in ecological integrity (coarse filter) and habitat capability for representative species (fine filter) under a wide range of alternative scenarios (to be defined).
  2. Develop habitat capability models for a suite of representative species (identified as part of a separate scope of work) to be used as a fine filter for evaluating landscape change scenarios.
  3. Develop ecological integrity models for a suite of ecological systems, including those found within the pilot watersheds (see below) to be used as a coarse filter for evaluating landscape change scenarios.
  4. Pilot the landscape change model by simulating landscape change and the corresponding ecological integrity and habitat capability for the representative species in three representative watersheds distributed throughout the NALCC.
  5. Assess the nature and magnitude of differences and similarities between areas identified as important habitat for the representative species (fine filter) and areas identified as having high ecological integrity (coarse filter) within the pilot watersheds; describe the implications for strategic habitat conservation planning and make recommendations for effectively combining fine- and coarse-filtered approaches to habitat conservation.

Phase 1 ended in June 2012. During Delaware and Maryland. In October 2012, LCC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff worked with UMass to conduct three one-day workshops to introduce conservation managers and other partners to the initial rthis phase, the approach was developed in three pilot study areas: the Kennebec River watershed in Maine, the middle Connecticut River in Massachusetts and adjacent states, and the Pocomoke and Nanticoke River watersheds in esults as well as to engage them in developing useful and relevant conservation tools during Phase 2 of the project. Results of Phase 1, other workshop materials, and extensive documentation of the project are available at the UMass Landscape Ecology Lab website.

NALCC Funding- $435,000

Results of Phase 1, other workshop materials, and extensive documentation of the project are available at the UMass Landscape Ecology Lab website.

Final Reports

Kennebec River Watershed Final Report

Middle Connecticut River Watershed Final Report

Pocomoke & Nanticoke Rivers Watershed Final Report

Presentations

Designing Sustainable Landscapes for Wildlife (2012-02)

Results of Phase 1, other workshop materials, and extensive documentation of the project are available at the UMass Landscape Ecology Lab website.

Final Reports

Kennebec River Watershed Final Report

Middle Connecticut River Watershed Final Report

Pocomoke & Nanticoke Rivers Watershed Final Report

Presentations

Designing Sustainable Landscapes for Wildlife (2012-02)