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Regional Context for Northeast Conservation Action

The North Atlantic LCC is working with states and other Northeast regional partners to develop to tools that provide regional context for state and local conservation actions.

Following the Northeast Conservation Framework, northeast states and LCCs have developed or are developing consistent terrestrial, aquatic, coastal and marine habitat classifications and maps, regional species and habitat vulnerability assessments, specific assessments of regional species of concern, assessments of ecological functions, and modeling frameworks and tools that provide support to evaluate alternatives and make decisions about conservation actions in the face of change. These tools collectively help articulate a landscape conservation blueprint or design for the Northeast and provide regional context for state and local actions.

The goal of this compilation and synthesis effort is to establish cooperative means to make this existing ecological planning and conservation design information more available to conservation partners for making decisions. Information and relevant products from completed and ongoing regional projects (including those generated through LCC and Regional Conservation Needs projects) are being synthesized and shared with partners and partnerships to facilitate their integration with on-the-ground delivery mechanisms. This project is supported in part through the hiring of Conservation Design Specialist and GIS Analysts in The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. As one key outcome, the North Atlantic LCC and state partners are developing a synthesis of regional conservation information focused on providing the species and habitat information needed for State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) revisions. Compiled information on species and habitats will provide a regional context for SWAP elements and will be available for voluntary inclusion into each state’s plan via a dynamic, web-based information management system.

The North Atlantic LCC has made great strides in this effort in 2013.  Various regionally consistent environmental ‘base’ layers developed by the states, the LCC and LCC partners are available on the North Atlantic LCC Data Basin site for visual overlay purposes right on the site in a web map.  For users who have access to GIS software, these data layers can be downloaded either from the Data Basin site or from the State Wildlife Action Plan synthesis data page on the North Atlantic LCC’s website.  Available layers include data from federal agencies such as FWS, USGS and NRCS, partners such as The Nature Conservancy and The University of Massachusetts Amherst Landscape Ecology Lab, as well as regional landscape layers generated by the North Atlantic LCC.  New layers are being uploaded continuously and will be organized by ecosystem type (terrestrial; aquatic; coastal and marine).  Having a single repository for environmental data layers will greatly improve the efficiency and consistency of conservation efforts across the Northeast. 

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