Cooperative landscape conservation related to farming, ranching, and forestry center around finding balance between conventional agricultural practices and sustainable use of soil, water, and other natural resources. LCC-funded research on working landscapes focus on ecological impacts of agricultural and conservation practices, mapping and modeling conservation activities such as wetland and grassland restoration, reducing hypoxia (oxygen-deplete dead zones) in streams and waters, and conducting social and economic analyses of conservation. LCCs have also funded a number of human dimensions projects to why land owners make conservation decisions and how to strengthen them.
Restoring access for anadromous fish (species that migrate between marine and freshwater) to upstream areas for spawning and rearing young is a significant contribution to the improvement of stream health and water quality. Stream barriers such as dams and road crossings prevent native species from moving up and downstream to important habitat.
Today’s conservation challenges are being compounded by a changing climate. These challenges are not just impacting isolated places or a single species, but affecting entire landscapes, multiple resources, and cultural ways of life. The ability to effectively plan for and address these issues transcends jurisdictional and geographic boundaries and is greater than any one agency or organization can meet alone.
LCCs provide diverse partner forums for building connections to achieve sustainable landscapes and seascapes that help communities increase their resiliency to change for current and future generations.
Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and changing frequency and intensity of storms are impacting landscapes and seascapes and the people, fish, wildlife, and plants that depend upon them. Coastal- and island-oriented LCCs support applied science efforts to help communities impacted by sea level rise to increase their local resilience; safeguard people, infrastructure, and natural resources from catastrophic damage from extreme weather events; and plan for their future.
Energy development and landscape-scale conservation are not mutually exclusive activities. LCC partners can support science and stakeholder forums to help minimize risks to fish and wildlife while improving certainty for energy developers.
Midwestern states within the Upper Mississippi River watershed currently contribute the greatest nutrient load to the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. To reduce water quality impacts downstream to fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, the conservation community identified the need for tools that prioritize the design and configuration of actions that appeal to upstream agricultural communities. As a result, the Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative (MRB/GH) was created.
As fish and wildlife and their habitats feel the pressure from stressors like drought, wildfire, invasive species, sea level rise, development, and other challenges, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are supporting investments in applied science that are helping to ensure the long-term vitality of species are hunted and fished and open recreational access for all.
Landscape Conservation Designs (LCD) can be developed as mechanisms – living blueprints for the future – for identifying, designing, and delivering through partners an ecologically connected network of landscapes and seascapes adaptable to global change. LCD is an iterative, collaborative, and holistic process resulting in products that provide information, analytical tools, maps, and strategies to achieve landscape goals collectively held among partners.
Combining geospatial data, biological information, and models, an LCD identifies opportunities to protect species, habitats, and environmental processes across an entire landscape. A Design can offer guidance for organizations and agencies working at different scales in the same area, and can help foster collaboration among them to achieve shared conservation goals.
LCCs work collaboratively with federal and state agencies, industries, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to address the conservation of declining species in priority landscapes. State fish and wildlife agencies, in particular, play a key role in providing expertise to identify the specific management needs of species, priority areas to do this work and receptive landowners.
The scale of sage-steppe conservation currently being implemented overshadows any previous efforts. The level of science, planning, and habitat conservation delivery in the sage-steppe has presented a unique opportunity for the LCCs to help its partners build a lasting and durable construct for sage-steppe conservation.
Full and active engagement of state agencies is vitally important to the success of each LCC. State agencies help drive the identification of science needs, and in return, LCCs can provide applied science resources and support to help agencies uphold their public trust responsibilities within their borders.
Traditional Ecological Knowledges (TEKs) are an understanding about the relationships among species and ecosystems acquired by Tribes and indigenous and local people over hundreds or thousands of years. This knowledge is handed down the generations through traditional stories and beliefs. TEKs can play a fundamental role in preserving natural and cultural resources by bridging human and environmental systems. LCCs support projects that study TEK to inform conservation strategies as a way to increase cultural resiliency and adaptation.
Connectivity is the mission of the nation’s transportation system of roadways and waterways. Connectivity is also mission-critical when advancing landscape and seascape scale conservation for fish, wildlife, and their habitats. LCC resources can help agencies, companies, and communities model future risks from landscape-scale change for smarter decision-making that can reduce risks and costs and protect strategic infrastructure investments on a longer-term and larger scale.
Our nation’s cities are built on lands and water systems that are connected to larger natural areas. The health and security of that land and water is vital for a city’s economy and the well-being of its metropolitan area residents. For example, LCC-funded efforts such as Ecological Places in Cities (EPiC) in the Midwest and the South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint (also see SECAS) are creating new visions for their landscapes that integrate nature’s benefits and natural defenses with planning approaches and civic leadership to grow ecologically resilient urban communities.
Adequate and safe water supplies are essential to the health, economy, security, and ecology of the country. To achieve sustainable water management and maintain economic productivity in the western U.S., action is required to address current and future water shortages; degraded water quality; increased demands for water from growing populations and energy needs; amplified recognition of environmental water requirements; and the potential for decreased water supply availability due to drought and long-term changes in weather patterns.
That's how we see it. Occasional views and commentary on landscape conservation and the importance of collaboration in sustaining natural and cultural resources for generations to come.