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Taking Science To Ground

The North Atlantic LCC is investing in four science delivery projects that will serve as examples of applied landscape conservation science in the Northeast.
Taking Science To Ground

The Susquehanna River. Photo: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

In its meeting April 16 in Portland, Maine, the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee approved funding for the projects as part of its ongoing science delivery effort to ensure the LCC’s information and tools are available in the scales and formats needed by conservation partners throughout the Northeast. The projects are designed to encourage partners and partnerships to develop delivery networks and use, test or develop applications of LCC data and tools with supporting landscape data, training, demonstrations and technical assistance. Lessons learned can help refine and guide similar efforts across the region.

North Atlantic LCC Coordinator Andrew Milliken said the projects are part of a larger effort by the LCC to go beyond science development and work with partners to “take science to ground” where it can help inform and guide conservation decisions at regional, landscape and local scales. Key science delivery goals include:

  • providing a fully functional information management system;
  • increasing capacity and networks for translation of science into conservation tools, technical assistance, training, and targeted outreach; 
  • supporting demonstrations of the application of LCC science and tools by partners; and
  • sponsoring workshops with users where LCC staff and partners can provide information and get feedback on the most effective way to integrate available information and to provide training on tools.

Below are summaries of funded demonstration projects and organizations:

Chesapeake Conservancy               

Project Funds: $100,000

The Chesapeake Conservancy and its partners will complete an engagement campaign to identify community needs and priorities related to conservation to create a common platform for decision making and conservation science throughout the Susquehanna watershed. The project is part of the community based, large-landscape conservation effort, Envision the Susquehanna. The Conservancy and its partners will use the landscape science products created through the North Atlantic LCC to identify and prioritize locations and methods that would best address the regional and local conservation needs identified by these communities.  Using this information, the Conservancy will work with its local partners to develop efficient and effective on-the-ground conservation projects that will protect the Susquehanna’s ecological and cultural resources. As part of this initiative, the Conservancy will share and promote the North Atlantic LCC landscape science products with its network of more than 25 participating organizations and institutions.       

Wildlife Conservation Society                     

Project Funds:  $99,965

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will facilitate integration of regional science through local land-use decision-making to enhance stewardship of North Atlantic LCC conservation priorities. In the first year of the project, the WCS will identify North Atlantic LCC science data layers that are most relevant for state and regional conservation priorities and determine opportunities for integrating this information into state and regional planning. This information will be coupled with WCS’ own regional database of local land-use regulations for New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to identify and prioritize communities with the greatest potential to achieve conservation outcomes in locations of high conservation value on private lands through small science-based modifications to existing land-use planning tools.  In the second year of the project, WCS will demonstrate on-the-ground application of landscape conservation science by creating a custom New York gallery through the North Atlantic LCC Conservation Planning Atlas on Databasin, and use it to develop town conservation profiles to advance the effectiveness of land-use planning in New York.

Open Space Institute (OSI)  

Project Funds: $100,000

The Open Space Institute (OSI) will promote the understanding and application of select North Atlantic LCC-sponsored science for land conservation across the North Atlantic, including the Canadian Maritimes. OSI will develop a set of guidance documents informed and distributed through strategic partnerships with the Land Trust Alliance, Highstead, and other select organizations that serve as resource ‘hubs’ for the land conservation community. The project will last 22 months and focus datasets most relevant to informing climate resilience for land conservation: the terrestrial resilience science, geospatial condition analysis (U.S. only), permeability, ecological integrity and secured lands datasets. The guidance documents will follow a logical sequence, covering the background of the science, why it is relevant to land conservation, and guidance for conservation planning. The project also will include case studies documenting the application of these data will be developed.

Highstead Foundation                                 

Project Funds: $20,000    

The Highstead Foundation will work with partners to deliver, disseminate, and communicate North Atlantic LCC science products to help advance the knowledge base, strategic conservation planning, and on-the-ground conservation success of regional conservation partnerships (RCPs).

There are 39 RCPs in New England (and eastern New York) covering more than 60 percent of the landscape, working across town and even state boundaries to achieve conservation that is both locally grounded and regionally significant. Each RCP is composed of multiple land trusts, community leaders, agencies, and conservation groups. Highstead, in partnership with the GIS office of Harvard Forest, Harvard University, will provide the technical assistance necessary for these practitioners to understand the foundational LCC data sets and how to apply them to strategic conservation planning.

Next steps for this effort will focus on working with grantees to develop a collaborative network of conservation partners to help put science in the hands of users. This summer, the North Atlantic LCC will host workshops to help project staff learn about recently released landscape science and discuss potential applications. In the fall, LCC staff will work with partners to identify training opportunities for applied landscape science.  For example, Highstead and Open Space Institute will convening a series of workshops and meetings to provide guidance to towns, land trusts and Regional Conservation Partnerships. As new information is made available, LCC staff will update partners and offer training opportunities to ensure that the newest science is put to action on the ground.

Science delivery proposals were reviewed by the North Atlantic LCC Science Delivery Team and staff. Click here to read the request for proposals.


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