January rings in with thoughts towards those age-old New Year’s resolutions. I tend to joke about this ritual, though in reality it may be a good thing. I think good things happen for the GCP LCC partnership when we meet yearly in January to promote collective thinking, air our concerns, and redirect our attention towards our accomplishments.
An area where I believe we need more collective thought and work in 2015 is our larger conservation vision. Guided by our Operations Plan and Science Strategy, this collective vision should provide a foundation for further development of landscape conservation design, and set the framework for future investments.
What is Landscape Conservation Design?
In the spirit of opening a dialogue, since this is the first of a new series of monthly newsletters, I’d like to lay out my perspective on what I believe conservation design is and is not. This is a topic often fraught with controversy because conservation design is linked to a lot of “push-button” issues related to concepts of autonomy, government regulation, and people’s personal relationships to specific places.
Here’s what conservation design is, according to the the LCC Network’s Strategic Plan (emphasis added by me), “Landscape Conservation Design is an iterative, collaborative, and holistic process that provides information, analytical tools, spatially explicit data and best management practices to develop shared conservation strategies and to achieve jointly held conservation goals among partners.”
What Landscape Conservation Design is NOT, in my book
Conservation design is not strictly about land protection, but rather includes a wide array of tactics ranging from supporting the status of working lands, to voluntary incentives for adaptive land management, to data collection, to mitigation banking, to purchase of easements and fee title acquisition from willing sellers, and a lot of other things we haven’t even thought of yet.
Conservation design is not solely about private lands or publicly owned lands; that is the point! Landscape scale conservation design relies on the science of species ranges, habitat coverage, and natural processes (which have quite fuzzy boundaries) rather than jurisdictional lines when outlining key areas for potential conservation. The publicly held lands in our Gulf Coast Prairie region may form the foundation for “an ecologically connected network of landscapes and seascapes adaptable to global change,” (a goal stated in the LCC Network Strategic Plan), but I think most of us would agree they are certainly not enough to achieve our collective GCP LCC vision of “enhancing cultural and natural resource conservation and sustainability across the landscape” - which, I might add, implies that we are leaving something of value that still works for future generations.
Conservation design is not about regulations or government requirements, but about information and a collaborative process of decision-making that will provide the soil from which new and innovative partnerships based on common interests can spring.
I believe in the GCP LCC, and we are fortunate to have a fully engaged Steering Committee and Science Team that are open to frank discussion and willing to hear our collective conservation needs. Our first and second year science projects have been informative and valued; these projects, and a fresh Science Strategy, guide our collective path towards an ecologically connected network with 21 other Landscape Cooperatives. I welcome and encourage your thoughts and reactions to my news post here. Please feel free to send me an email or give me a call (337-266-8816).