In May 2014, the GNLCC Steering Committee approved two pilot projects explore approaches to landscape-scale coordination to enhance science-based management across the GNLCC. The two ‘Shared Landscape Outcomes’ pilots were designed to assess and focus on specific pairs of a GNLCC Goal and a priority landscape stressor (as defined in the Strategic Conservation Framework) and focus the approach at the entire GNLCC scale. The two pilot projects focused on (1) the Connectivity goal and Land Use Change stressor (described here) and (2) the Aquatic Integrity goal and Invasives stressor and (see: http://greatnorthernlcc.org/PTS/prj_report.html?PRJ_ID=403 )
Wildlife species are becoming increasingly isolated in patches of habitat, surrounded by a human-dominated landscape. As a result, distribution of wildlife species continues to shrink, in part because of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Climate change exacerbates the problem as fragmented habitats are less resilient to change. For these reasons, ecological connectivity has been identified as a priority among GNLCC partners and is explicit in the GNLCCs strategic conservation framework (Goal 2). Within the GNLCC, there is an array of large-scale, multi-jurisdictional, and trans-boundary collaborative initiatives and a wide range of partners that can affect ecological connectivity. This project brings those partners and initiatives together to implement coordinated and collaborative action that maintains or enhances connectivity of the GNLCC landscape. Many of the current connectivity efforts have been led by state agencies, multi-jurisdictional collaborative initiatives, or NGOs. Federal land management agencies are increasing emphasis on ecological connectivity; for example the U.S. Forest Service explicitly calls for improving connectivity through forest planning and the National Park Service has engaged in an initiative called Scaling Up to improve engagement in connectivity initiatives as part of the Directors Call to Action.
FY2014In 2014, a team including GNLCC Advisory Team, Steering Committee members and Partners initiated a pilot to address connectivity challenges and opportunities across the GNLCC geography.
Objectives for this pilot were to: Conserve an intact and connected landscape of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, to facilitate species movement, genetic connectivity, migration, dispersal, life history, and other biophysical processes. Identify the overarching desired ‘outcome’ for how land use change (stressor) affects this goal. Implement and support management activities that conserve or restore connectivity, and avoid land use actions that would impare or reduce current levels of connectivity.
Our objective is to develop an ecological connectivity conservation strategy for the GNLCC. The strategy will identify coordinated and collaborative action to conserve the regions intact and connected landscapes that facilitate species movement, genetic connectivity, migration, dispersal, life history, and other biophysical processes. The connectivity strategy will engage the full range of GNLCC partners and inform and coordinate their current and future management activities. Two landscape stressors will be addressed at the workshops; we will focus on (1) minimizing or mitigating land-use changes, and (2) adapting to climate change across the landscape.
In this second year, we propose to (1) expand the information in the atlas (to refine existing information, and incorporate avian connectivity, aquatic connectivity, ecosystem processes, and climate change); (2) conduct regional workshops to refine the connectivity implementation strategy and explore actions for climate change adaptation; and (3) follow up on actions identified at the April 2015 managers workshop and approved by the GNLCC Steering Committee.
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