Partnerships: Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
Transformational science for a changing Gulf landscape
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) were established in 2010 as a network of public-private partnerships focused on using cutting-edge science to ensure the sustainability of our land, water, wildlife and cultural resources. LCC partners define science needs and jointly address broad-scale conservation issues (e.g., sea-level rise) in an ecologically defined geographic area. Four LCCs cover parts of the Gulf landscape: Gulf Coast Prairie; Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks; South Atlantic; and Peninsular Florida. The Service is an active member and stalwart supporter of these and the other 18 LCCs in the network.
LCCs aim to assist conservation practitioners, land use planners, wildlife managers and many others in meeting 21st-century conservation challenges such as sea level rise, climate extremes and altered river flows. For example, the four Gulf LCCs and two others in the Southeast and Caribbean are collaborating on an unprecedented scale to create a Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). A SECAS “Conservation Blueprint” that stitches together the conservation and restoration priorities of Southeast LCC partners into one unifying map will provide a regional context for a wide variety of local decisions, highlighting common ground for conservation.
The four LCCs whose geographic regions cover the Gulf Coast partnered with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to conduct a Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment. This qualitative assessment focused on determining which ecosystems and species are most vulnerable in the region, where they are most vulnerable, and why. The results highlighted the threat to coastal marshes, which also provide coastal communities and energy infrastructure a protective bulwark against storm damage. The GCVA is now being used to guide future conservation and restoration efforts by helping natural resource managers, scientists, regional planners, and others to identify vulnerable areas where they can focus critical resources to achieve the most effective outcomes.