Conservation experts from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) this October proposed priorities for science and collaboration to guide conservation research and future investments by the LCC and its partners.
The proposed priorities were selected through a qualitative and quantitative research process engaging more than 30 representatives from across non-governmental, federal (U.S. and Canadian), state and provincial agencies and organizations vested in the conservation, restoration and protection of upper Midwest and Great Lakes natural resources.
“We simply cannot expend our resources everywhere. With tightening budgets, increasing demands on our natural resources, and emerging conservation impacts like climate change, we must work together to prioritize where we can do the most good, not just for fish, wildlife and natural resources, but for people as well,” said Bradly Potter, Science Coordinator for the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC.
A shared conservation priorities assessment was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois from March – Sept. 2012. Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC technical committee members reviewed the assessment and selected priorities to propose to the LCC steering committee this October. The LCC steering committee will review the proposed priorities in January 2013.
The shared priorities assessment included comprehensive one-on-one interviews with more than 30 natural resources experts who serve as staff, technical or steering committee members of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC. Researchers also conducted a background documentation analysis on existing conservation priorities articulated by LCC partners. Following this information gathering process, descriptive statistics were used to rank priorities for further discussion among LCC leadership and technical committees.
Technical committee members from across the partnership proposed the following science and collaboration priorities to guide LCC investments and activities:
Assessing terrestrial and aquatic connectivity – Connected landscapes facilitate movement for wildlife, including individuals, populations and communities and support more resilient ecosystems. The LCC conservation community desires to maintain connected habitats and restore severed habitats.
Conservation of species at a landscape scale – Conservation activities benefitting fish, plants and wildlife often occur at local scales, however, regional coordination is necessary to increase the efficacy of conservation actions when working toward species population objectives.
Climate change adaptation for fish, wildlife and natural resources – Natural resource managers will be required to adapt conservation and management efforts to account for rapidly accelerated climate changes that are impacting fish, wildlife and other natural resources. The LCC aims to support the development of strategies for climate change adaptation, including assessing vulnerability of species and development of decision-support and communication tools.
Quantifying and communicating ecosystem services – Ecosystem services acknowledges the benefits of conservation actions beyond direct impacts to natural resources. These include social and economic impacts of conservation and management activities. The LCC conservation community supports quantifying and communicating these indirect impacts of conservation to garner greater public support for landscape conservation.
Energy development and landscape change – Increased demand for energy production and the growth of non-traditional energy sources have direct impacts on natural resources across broad regions and landscapes. Understanding these impacts is critical to allow natural resources managers and the energy development community to work together to minimize those effects while meeting energy demands.
Information management, delivery and communication – The LCC aims to ensure the conservation community receives maximum value from LCC science investment by facilitating the transfer of information in formats that are quickly accessed, easily understood, transparent, and trustworthy.
Using regional assets for relating science, management and policy – The LCC is strategically situated to identify key conservation assets and make those assets available to the broader conservation community.
Emerging conservation issues – Natural resources in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region continually face new and unfamiliar threats. The LCC aims to bring awareness to these issues to the broader conservation community with potential to quickly mobilize actions and response.
Regional conservation efforts – No single agency or organization can achieve conservation objectives individually. Bringing the conservation community together around shared goals develops a greater capacity to leverage resources for action and communication. The LCC aims to serve as a venue to develop shared conservation goals and coordinate regional conservation efforts.