Appalachian LCC Conservation Design
The outcome of the Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning & Design consultative process and modeling will be a dynamic ‘Conservation Blueprint’ or 'Landscape Conservation Design'. This will be a dynamic or living design envisioned as an ongoing consultation with the conservation community - both subject-matter experts and committed stakeholders. Phase I and II are described below. Phase III will begin in 2017 and focus on implementation of the Landscape Conservation Design. For more information, see the LCC Conservation Design video below.
In Phase I of this effort, the research team used super-computing technology to identify the ecologically significant habitats and natural resources that are connected across the landscape and will be resilient to future threats. Researchers identified five conservation design elements covering many critical ecological processes and patterns across the Appalachian LCC geography. These elements include large interconnected regions as well as broad landscapes that connect them. Small areas that are likely to contain larger ecological significance than their size would suggest were also mapped. Combined, these identified lands and waters cover many critical ecological processes and patterns across the LCC geography. The areas identified in the Phase 1 effort can be viewed and the data can be downloaded from the Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning Atlas. Since cultural resources are an additional critical piece of conservation design in the Appalachians, a conceptual framework was developed for mapping these resources across the entire geography and will be integrated in a future iteration of the conservation design.
Phase II - Appalachian LCC staff coordinated a series of consultations with experts across the region to ensure priority aquatic species, habitats, and ecosystems are included in the final landscape conservation design. Discussions built on results of the Phase I modeling to include appropriate metrics and threats for assessing aquatic ecological integrity in the region. From these consultations, Clemson researchers developed an aquatics only scenario for landscape prioritization based on catchment level predictors. They also integrated freshwater and terrestrial scenario for spatial prioritization. An online tool will soon be available that will enable partners to ask multiple questions about the underlying data (e.e. why is this place important and what priorities are within this area.)
Since cultural resources are an additional critical piece of conservation design in the Appalachians, a conceptual framework is being developed for mapping cultural resources across the entire geography and will be integrated in a future iteration of the conservation design.
Video Overview of LCC Conservation Design: Paul Leonard of Clemson University provides an overview of the Appalachian LCC Conservation Design research. The first part of the presentation focuses on phase one of the project, which identified key conservation elements in the region that are essential for sustaining biodiversity and the benefits of nature. He then summaries the next steps in the research, where Clemson researchers and technical teams will refine the initial phase by selecting metrics of aquatic integrity o fit into the conservation design framework, determine resolution for region-wide aquatic integrity index, and discuss major threats to aquatic systems and determine best scale to examine integrity.