Context and Research QuestionIn 2010, the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group (WWHCWG) statewide analysis identified a need for a closer look at this landscape extending from the Southern Cascades (from approximately Mount Rainier to the Columbia River), through southwestern Washington, and into the Olympic Peninsula. Several species in this landscape have unique connectivity patterns and broad-scale data limitations which we began to explore in this analysis. Finer-scale analyses are necessary to prioritize and inform actions to maintain and restore habitat connectivity in this region.
During meetings in 2016, 2017, and 2018, the WWHCG group developed a plan to model the region using Linkage Mapper connectivity mapping software.
In late 2018 groups members from the US Forest Service and USFWS expressed a desire to explore Linkage Mapper with another approach called Omniscape. These two approaches represent “core-corridor” and “coreless” approaches, respectively. Each approach has pros and cons that and represents different dimensions of habitat connectivity. It was proposed by the group that a pilot project be developed to explore both methods to help the group think through which approach to take, using one single method or combine methods to achieve a meaningful product.
The project partners’ driving question of the pilot project:• Should future species for the coastal WA connectivity project use Omniscape or Linkage Mapper or a combination of the two?GoalsThis connectivity assessment in coastal Washington builds from a set of broader goals outlined by the WWHCWG and the PNW Landscape Conservation Design project. The WWHCWG created a more explicit statement of goals and end-user needs for the Coastal Washington Habitat Connectivity Modeling pilot, as follows.Working Group Mission and Vision
Mission: Promoting the long-term viability of wildlife populations in Washington State through a science-based, collaborative approach that identifies opportunities and priorities to conserve and restore habitat connectivity.
Our Vision: Permanent protection of a robust, validated network of connected habitats to accommodate species movements, range shifts, and continued ecological functions that maximize retention of biodiversity and ecological integrity in light of existing land-use pressures and climate change.
Pacific Northwest Coastal Landscape Conservation Design GoalsVision: Achieve a network of healthy, connected, ecosystems and working landscapes capable of providing a full suite of ecosystem services that can absorb, respond, and adapt to climatic change and other key stressors through the use of collaborative, science-based strategies.
1) To foster a spirit of collaboration, communication, and continual learning among thecommunities and diverse interests within the study area.2) To understand how climate change and other stressors will affect the region.3) To identify a diverse suite of intact, connected, functioning ecosystems and working landscapes capable of adapting to stressors and providing important ecological functions and services.4) To create science-based, spatially explicit products that identifies priority areas and the conservation actions necessary to achieve specified conservation goals and targets.5) To sustain healthy habitats for native fish, wildlife, and plant species and a suite of ecosystem services that benefit people.
Coastal Washington Habitat Connectivity Modeling GoalsThe following was developed by the WWHCWG during the winter and spring of 2019 in a collaborative editing process, facilitated by the project team.Goal Statement and End-User Needs for Modeling Habitat Connectivity in the Coastal Washington EcoregionWinter/Spring 2019 Goal: Using science-based methods, identify connected habitat networks and prioritize areas for conserving and/or restoring conditions that promote desirable wildlife movements for the broadest possible range of native species. (This was developed by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, and it dovetails nicely with the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Design mission.)Considerations: The identification of priority areas for conserving connectivity will be done using Geographic Information Systems models in collaboration with stakeholders in the region. This assessment will focus on current landscape conditions, including current vegetation, land use and land ownership. Alternative priorities will be explored based on scenarios deemed important to stakeholders and are likely to include:• Connectivity priorities based on climate change scenarios• Connectivity networks that maximize use of protected habitat and consider balance with working lands in the region.• Identification of optimal locations to provide connectivity across barriers like highwaysAchieving the goal for connectivity modeling requires rigorous selection of focal species and consideration of the value of including a model based on landscape integrity metrics. Selected focal species should represent important habitat elements and threats to loss of connectivity. Habitat networks for the selected focal species should provide well-connected conditions for a significant segment of the native fauna of the project area. Taken together, the identified habitat networks for all focal species combined should provide for connected populations of the majority of native species for which connectivity is desired. End User NeedsThese analyses are meant to provide a network of end-users with spatially-explicit tools to support land management decisions and to understand the role of their land within a broader landscape context. Interest and support for connectivity products have included:• Local and County Governments, to support county growth planning. State and Federal Wildlife/Resource Agencies to support land management planning (Forest Service to support Forest Plan revision, National Wildlife Refuge System for future Comprehensive Conservation Planning).• Transportation agencies seeking to invest in crossing structures where they will provide the greatest long term benefits to wildlife populations.• Land Trusts to identify priority easements or land acquisition.• Working Lands Community, which includes timber corporations, small family forest owners, ranchers, and dairy farmers, whose working lands can also provide wildlife connectivity habitat.• Tribes have expressed interest in understanding the role of their lands in species conservation• Biodiversity advocate organizations and individuals that interact with most, if not all, of the above organizations, and also bring an “All Lands” and “Climate-wise” perspective.
In sum, these analyses are meant to support the development of a collaborative vision for a sustainable ecoregion for wildlife and people. These products will support a network of conservation practitioners towards collective implementation of this vision.
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Original ISO Metadata
“Connectivity Boundary GDB”