Developing and integrating the best available science into today’s conservation work is essential to effectively address the complexities of modern-day landscape ecology and the uncertainty of highly variable climate conditions.
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are on the front lines, leading the development of emerging science—particularly GIS technology and climate science—and making it accessible to the conservation community and others. Gulf Coast Prairie LCC currently has more than a dozen science projects in development.
The inter-continental LCC network, of which Gulf Coast Prairie is a part, is only a few years old. One of the first steps for each LCC has been to bring partners together to identify their most significant environmental challenges and assess their collective science needs. Gulf Coast Prairie LCC partners went through an extensive effort… (Read more)
Within the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC area, the health of coastal ecosystems and rivers is especially affected by changing climate conditions, such as sea level rise and storm surges, as well as oil spills and pollution, including the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The water quality, salinity, and flow patterns of inland watersheds also are dramatically changing in many areas. LCC partners are using advanced computer modeling tools to understand current hydrologic conditions and plan ahead for the future so they can focus on the most vulnerable and valuable wildlife habitats. LCC partners also are major players in broad-scoped efforts to restore the rich and unique natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico.
Over many decades, prime habitats within the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC area have been lost to various land uses, including agricultural and urban development. For example, lush grasslands have become fragmented and degraded, causing some bird species and other wildlife that depend on large expanses of land to experience major declines. LCC partners are bringing landowners and organizations together to focus on their common ground, conserving remaining grassland habitats and restoring others so they can support healthy wildlife populations, and people’s livelihoods, once again.
Also within the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC area, rapid population growth is altering groundwater availability and quality; meanwhile some regions are experiencing unprecedented drought. LCC partners are using cutting-edge urban growth and other computer modeling tools that help them identify, plan, and prioritize conservation work for the future, for the sake of the wildlife and communities that rely on these same water resources.
Today’s environmental challenges are difficult and the stakes are high, but Gulf Coast Prairie LCC partners’ collective commitment is strong. Sustaining healthy ecological conditions is not only vital to wildlife, it also protects the quality of life and livelihoods of all people who live in this region.