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One of the strengths of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is our technical excellence in planning and delivering conservation. Whether on a National Wildlife Refuge, at a National Fish Hatchery, or on some other public or private land, the plans and projects we deliver are widely acclaimed for their quality and effectiveness in addressing conservation challenges.
The conservation challenges of the 21st Century are more complex than ever before. In addition to those we previously confronted at the local level, widespread threats such as drought, climate change and large-scale habitat fragmentation are complicating our efforts to plan and conduct conservation. These complex threats don't just impact isolated places or individual species, but entire landscapes and multiple resources simultaneously.
These challenges are too large for the Service or any single organization to meet alone. It will take a combined effort involving many public and private organizations to deal with the landscape-scale issues facing us all. In the Northeast and regions throughout the country, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) provide a forum for States, Tribes, Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and other groups to work together in a new way.
LCCs are applied conservation science partnerships with two main functions. The first is to provide the science and technical expertise needed to support conservation planning at landscape scales – beyond the reach or resources of any one organization. Through the efforts of in-house staff and science-oriented partners, LCCs are generating the tools, methods and data managers need to design and deliver conservation using the Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) approach. The second function of LCCs is to promote collaboration among their members in defining shared conservation goals. With these goals in mind, partners can identify where and how they will take action, within their own authorities and organizational priorities, to best contribute to the larger conservation effort. LCCs don't place limits on partners; rather, they help partners to see how their activities can "fit" with those of other partners to achieve a bigger and more lasting impact.
The FWS and regional LCCs are currently facilitating a pilot effort with partners in the Connecticut River watershed to develop a landscape conservation design process for the watershed that will help guide management decisions and conservation actions at regional, landscape and local scales. The effort also will connect to broader goals for conserving wildlife populations and intact natural systems across the Northeast, which in turn support and enhance food production, clean air and water, storm protection, recreation and the overall health and well-being of people.Lessons learned during the pilot will help refine and improve the landscape conservation design process so it can be replicated by partners in other regional landscapes like the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Maine.
April 11, 2014