Science Leads Our Way in the Southwest
Photo of a lily willow slough at McFaddin NWR
At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we have a name for our modernized approach to conservation. We call it Strategic Habitat Conservation. This approach now guides all that we do.
But Strategic Habitat Conservation didn’t just happen. It evolved over time as conservationists on the front lines pursue the most effective ways to adapt to rapid and widespread changes in the natural world.
With a Strategic Habitat Conservation approach:
- We recognize that our environmental challenges are exacerbated by a dramatically changing climate. We are integrating information on climate change and other emerging science into all the work we do.
- Our partnerships throughout the conservation community—and with others who have a shared interest in a healthy environment—have never been more vital. One way we are improving our collective impact is through Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. There are 22 of them across the country, three in the Southwest.
- Instead of focusing on specific parcels of land and habitat, we consider the broader context of how landscapes function to sustain wildlife and people. We invest in scientific technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems, that help us take into account all kinds of ecological data that informs our work.
- We consider the needs of wildlife in a broader context, too. We focus on “surrogate species” —plants and animals that distinctly signal the health of ecosystems. This helps us act proactively on behalf of many species before they are threatened with serious loss. A surrogate-species focus helps us make better investments overall.
Playa at Muleshoe NWR Credit: USFWS
The common denominator guiding all aspects of Strategic Habitat Conservation is sound science, including the social sciences. We must demonstrate how the health of our natural world is connected to our society’s well-being and a big part of what has always made America a vital and prosperous nation.
Advancing science is fundamental to effective conservation in the 21st century. This means we need to expand the availability of science and technology relevant to the conservation community, ensure the quality of scientific information we use in decision-making, and continually build our capacity to integrate emerging science into our work.
Fulfilling those needs is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Science Applications program is all about. Click on any of the above links or tabs under “Science” to learn more about what we do, or take a look at our stories. These highlight how our agency and Region are carrying out Strategic Habitat Conservation, particularly by advancing climate science and collaborating more effectively through Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.
For more information on the Science Applications program, please contact:
Dana Roth, Assistant Regional Director for Science Applications, 505.248.6928
or Stacy Matson, Executive Assistant, 505.248.6277
How we are carrying out Strategic Habitat Conservation in the Southwest