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Providing the Foundation

Since its inception, the North Atlantic LCC has placed a high priority on creating, organizing and making available foundational data and information at the scales and in the formats partners need.
Providing the Foundation

North Atlantic LCC Coordinator Andrew Milliken

One of the chief road blocks to large-scale, collaborative planning and action for conservation envisioned by the North Atlantic LCC partnership is the lack of accessible high-quality, regionally consistent information about fish, wildlife and plant species, habitats, and landscapes. Such information serves as the foundation upon which partners can build planning tools and set strategic priorities for effective conservation action. Consequently, since its inception the North Atlantic LCC has placed a high priority on creating, organizing, and making available foundational data and information at scales and in the formats that partners need.

In 2013, the North Atlantic LCC achieved considerable progress in its work to assemble and make available foundational information. Working with Northeast states, The Nature Conservancy, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and other partners, the LCC developed and assembled dozens of regional datasets about the physical environment (soils, geology, streams, climate), fish, wildlife and plant occurrences, ecological systems and human land use and activities (roads, development, protected areas). Where useful, the LCC added further value to this information by deriving new regional data products from the datasets. The LCC is providing these data to many users, including state agencies, and making many available through the Conservation Planning Atlas and a Northeast State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) synthesis data web page.

The North Atlantic LCC also supported the development of new foundational information in 2013. For example, with LCC support, the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech completed a rapid update of wetlands mapping in 153 coastal areas that will be incorporated into the National Wetlands Inventory. LCC partners had identified the revision of out-of-date wetlands maps as being a high priority for coastal planning and for understanding regional habitat conditions for coastal wildlife.  Another example in the coastal realm was the completion of the first phase of an LCC project classifying and mapping estuarine and marine environments from Maine to Virginia using the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standards (CMECS), a project led by The Nature Conservancy, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, and the University of Rhode Island.

With this foundation, the LCC is now able to work collaboratively in landscapes across the LCC to assess and prioritize what conservation actions are needed where to sustain natural and cultural resources in the face of change.  We are applying this information at the landscape scale as part of a collaborative landscape conservation design pilot project in the Connecticut River watershed and at the regional scale through a Northeast regional synthesis for State Wildlife Action Plan updates. You can learn more about these projects in this latest newsletter, along with other examples of how the LCC is transitioning from science development to science delivery and application on the ground. With a solid foundation in place, I believe our best work is yet to come.

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