Strategic Habitat Conservation
Conserving the Nature of America


Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

FWS Climate Strategy

Science Applications

spacer Edwards Plateau. Credit: TEXAS Parks and Wildlife Department

Strategic Habitat Conservation FAQs

The following are some key questions and responses about why and how the Service is changing.  

Why does it make sense to adopt a Service-wide conservation and business framework?

We are losing species and their habitats at an alarming rate and need to clearly and strategically focus our resources and expertise on where we can have the greatest positive impact on fish, wildlife and plants for current and future generations.

To do so, we must:

  1. Identify population and management objectives for species that we care about, starting at ecologically meaningful scales;
  2. Address as a unified FWS and with partners as possible the most significant conservation challenges;
  3. Pool resources and talent and align and target work to ensure efficient and effective conservation delivery;
  4. Measure and evaluate progress, including both successes and failures, to continually improve our strategies and actions.  Strategic Habitat Conservation is the conservation and business framework we adopted to consistently and transparently achieve these goals. 

How is Service-wide adoption of Strategic Habitat Conservation different from what we’re already doing?

Full adoption of Strategic Habitat Conservation as framework for the FWS should;

  1. Enable our workforce to plan, design and deliver conservation actions more strategically;
  2. Allow for greater transparency via a priority and science-driven conservation investment decision-making process;
  3. Result in increased accountability by measuring our progress – both as a Service and employees/partners. 
  4. Operate in a more coordinated and collaborative way by focusing programmatic efforts towards shared outcomes;
  5. Work with partners to maximize our landscape-scale conservation results; communicate and engage with our workforce to ensure their voices are heard and they have opportunities to contribute to this effort
  6. Ultimately become more relevant to the communities we serve.

What were the results of the peer review process of the Draft Technical Guidance on Selecting Species for Landscape Conservation?

An external peer review was conducted to consider the scientific quality and credibility of the Draft Technical Guidance on Selecting Species for Landscape Conservation. The peer review report indicated need for significant reorganization and better focus and recommended a more thorough analysis of the literature on the different uses of surrogates, including their success and failures to achieve intended conservation goals. The final peer review report and our response is available.

The end result of the peer review process is that the Service rewrote the draft technical guidance as a non-prescriptive technical reference document to be used as a tool where appropriate.

How can the Technical Reference on Selecting Species for Landscape Conservation help me?

The Technical Reference is designed to help employees and partners understand the strengths and limitations of a surrogate species approach. The document provides a common understanding of the concepts, terms and definitions associated with surrogate species. It also uses real world examples to help explain when this approach can best be applied, summarizes published and unpublished literature, and recognizes other approaches can be used to set science-based priorities with our partners. The reference document concludes with a discussion of the various monitoring and evaluation methodologies that are available to assess the effectiveness of surrogate species.

You can download a copy of the Technical Reference on Selecting Species for Landscape Scale Conservation.

How will the Technical Reference affect how we move forward?

By recasting the guidance as a technical reference document, we hope to give employees across the agency the green light to innovate and experiment. This is, after all, the way scientific advances are made. To that end, the Service is supporting the creation of a community of practice among landscape conservation professionals, and helping the agency function as a learning organization that constantly improves its methods and practices.


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Additional Resources:

FWS Regional Sites:

Region 1: Pacific

Region 2: Southwest

Region 3: Midwest

Region 4: Southeast

Region 5: Northeast

Region 6: Mountain Prairie

Region 7: Alaska

Region 8: Pacific Southwest



Last updated: January 21, 2016

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