Dec. 3, 2015
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Yield Many Early Accomplishments; Measurement of Long-Term Benefits Needs Improvement
WASHINGTON – Because fish, wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources extend beyond political boundaries, there is a national need to develop resource management strategies across jurisdictions and sectors, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), initiated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2009 and coordinated by the department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), were created to address this national need and can point to many early accomplishments. Ultimately, the long-term success of this effort will depend on developing ways to measure and demonstrate benefits to its conservation partners and the nation.
At the request of Congress, FWS asked the Academies to convene a committee to evaluate the LCCs, a network of 22 regional conservation partnerships in the United States, including the Pacific and Caribbean islands, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. Each LCC is tasked with creating a collaborative framework to develop shared conservation priorities and identify applied research needs across federal agencies, state agencies, tribes, private landholders, and other stakeholders working on conservation efforts within its region.
Individual LCCs have generated some early accomplishments, such as identifying partners, establishing governance structures and steering committees, and developing shared conservation and research priorities for use by all partners, says the report. It is too soon to expect the network as a whole to have made measurable improvements to managing fish, bird, and other wildlife populations and their habitats. In addition, the LCC network needs to improve its evaluation process to better capture the contributions made by all partners toward common objectives and to better measure and demonstrate benefits to its partners.
The report finds that LCCs are unique in that they are designed to address landscape needs at a national level for all natural and cultural resources as well as to bridge conservation research and management. Similar federal programs are more narrowly focused and the LCCs generally seek to coordinate with other programs where their interests overlap. Moving forward, the LCC network needs to strengthen coordination with other programs that have a strong interest in landscape approaches to conservation to avoid duplicative efforts and limit demands on state agency and other partners that participate in multiple programs.
The study was sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org. A committee roster follows.
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Pre-publication copies of A Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are available from the National Academies Press on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu or by calling 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
Ocean Studies Board
Committee on the Evaluation of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Dorothy J. Merritts (chair)
Harry W. and Mary B. Huffnagle Professor of Geosciences, and
Chair, Department of Earth and Environment
Franklin and Marshall College
Director of Recreation and Conservation (retired)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
F. Stuart Chapin III*
Institute of Arctic Biology
University of Alaska
Holly D. Doremus
James H. House and Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmental Regulation,
Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Research, and
Co-Director, Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment
School of Law
University of California
Science for Nature and People
The Nature Conservancy
Kenneth D. Haddad
Executive Director (retired)
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Institute on the Environment
University of Minnesota
Lynn A. Maguire
Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Philip W. Mote
Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and Oregon Climate Services
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences
Oregon State University
John A. O'Leary
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Rebecca R. Rubin
President and Chief Executive Officer
President and Senior Ecologist
Western EcoSystems Technologies Inc.
School of Environment and Natural Resources
Ohio State University
*Member, National Academy of Sciences