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Regional Conservation Partnerships explore landscape conservation design

A North Atlantic LCC workshop for Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) - networks of conservation partnerships across New England and eastern New York - opened the door for increasing conservation design and delivery throughout the Northeast.

During a Science Delivery workshop in September, North Atlantic LCC staff introduced participants from Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) to Landscape Conservation Design through a tour of the Connecticut River Watershed Pilot.

Representing informal networks of agencies, nonprofits, and private organizations working together to realize long-term conservation goals, RCPs are fertile ground for Landscape Conservation Design, which offers an avenue for linking strategic, collaborative planning on broad spatial and temporal scales, to local actions.

Supported by a science delivery grant from the North Atlantic LCC to the Highstead Foundation, the training held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office in Hadley, Mass., offered RCP members an overview of the LCC’s vision, and the products it offers - namely, sophisticated models and maps that bring data to life to inform conservation decisions.

To give participants a sense of data availability and access, North Atlantic LCC Science Delivery Coordinator Steve Fuller and Geographer and GIS Specialist Lori Pelech showcased some of what already exists within the Conservation Planning Atlas, a data portal on the North Atlantic LCC website.

Nancy McGarigal, lead Natural Resource Planner for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, and Scott Schwenk, Science Coordinator for the North Atlantic LCC, followed with a detailed look at Landscape Conservation Design in practice in the Connecticut River Watershed Pilot, in which partners are integrating measurable goals for ecosystems and focal species of fish and wildlife, to craft a conservation plan for the watershed that takes future threats into account.

McGarigal and Schwenck's presentation led into a discussion about the overlaps between the Landscape Conservation Design approach, and conservation planning and action at the RCP level.

Before the end of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to explore a subset of datasets used in the Landscape Conservation Design process for the Connecticut River Watershed, and to consider how these kinds of data could be used at the RCP level, an exercise led by Steve Fuller and Brian Hall, GIS Research Assistant at Harvard Forest, Harvard University.

The Highstead Foundation, which organized the workshop, works in partnership with Harvard Forest through the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative to facilitate collaboration with regional conservation partners and leaders in the Northeast, including the RCP Network  

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