The rolling sage-brush oceans, mountain aspen sanctuaries, and sprawling desert shrub lands that characterize our Western landscapes face daunting threats such as invasive species, catastrophic wildfire, and incompatible land uses. In fact, roughly 80% of western lands are highly altered. In order to have a lasting conservation impact on lands west of the 100th meridian, we must improve these vast landscapes.
Conservancy scientists have developed a set of planning tools – called Landscape Conservation Forecasting – that have the ability to affect millions of acres across the West. This is a conservation opportunity at an unprecedented scale and that can be achieved for a reasonable price. Working with both public land management agencies which control more than 85% of these lands, as well as private landowners, we can develop strategies to restore these expansive, irreplaceable landscapes to a healthier condition for people and for wildlife.
Landscape Conservation Forecasting…
- Assesses the health of existing vegetation communities through the use of satellite imagery
- Employs predictive ecological models to demonstrate how those communities will change over time, and factors in the potential effects of future changes in climate
- Evaluates the effectiveness of different management actions in order to identify pragmatic strategies that can be easily implemented
- Considers the cost of each strategy in order to help land managers prioritize their on-the-ground actions to get the highest conservation return for the least expense.
The Nature Conservancy is uniquely positioned to facilitate the implementation of Landscape Conservation Forecasting with our partners, offering
- A non-confrontational approach to engaging stakeholders
- Science-based conservation experience and expertise
- A solid reputation for successful implementation of large-scale conservation projects
- Experience working on-the-ground in a wide variety of landscapes
- The strategies developed by Landscape Conservation Forecasting influence how and where agencies work, which management actions are afforded the highest priority, and how conservation dollars are spent on public land management.
Landscape Conservation Forecasting is particularly exciting because it offers the ability to make an investment in the future of our great landscapes; with a relatively small investment in planning today, we can affect what happens to millions of acres of land for years to come.