Those of you who are familiar with Blueprint 1.0 or who attended a Blueprint 2.0 workshop have already been introduced to the idea of conservation actions. I always imagine the Blueprint as answering two questions: 1) where should I work? and 2) what kind of work should I do there?

By recommending specific actions like protection, management, and outreach—in addition to identifying highest priority places—the Blueprint moves toward a not-so-distant future where actions and indicators are linked. This allows you, as part of this Cooperative, to start saying some pretty powerful things. Things like “with $1 million to restore prescribed fire on 5,000 acres of longleaf pine, we can increase pine bird index scores in the South Atlantic geography by 10%” (I made that up, just as an example). That would be a pretty compelling story to tell funders, don’t you think? And it gives us a way to track progress toward your Cooperative’s overall goals of ecosystem integrity and intact cultural landscapes.

ActionFiltersBy incorporating those actions into the Blueprint interface as filters, like you see with the simple Blueprint viewer now, they also provide an easy way to find the piece of the Blueprint that aligns with your work. Interested in land acquisition? Start here. Interested in incentives? Start here.

So far, the South Atlantic LCC has used a set of overarching categories from the Open Standards Conservation Actions Taxonomy. In Blueprint 1.0, workshop attendees used their expert judgment to decide where to suggest those actions. Since Blueprint 2.0 is data-driven, your staff drafted spatially explicit “GIS rules” to distribute those actions in the new indicator-based framework. If you attended a workshop last month, you reviewed some examples like “recommend land/water protection in the highest priority areas not predicted to transition due to sea level rise”. Or, “recommend education and outreach for smoke management within a 2.5 km buffer of all priority pine areas”. These were never meant to be “hard and fast” rules—just consistent methods to identify potential opportunities for shared action. The Blueprint is not intended for use in isolation from expert judgment and other plans. Conservation practitioners will always draw on on local knowledge and opportunities, and these less tangible factors absolutely still belong in the decision-making equation. The Blueprint just provides a way to see how individual efforts add up to something bigger when we work together, and that philosophy applies to the conservation actions, too.

However, we quickly discovered that some types of actions are difficult to depict spatially, as you see with some of the Blueprint known issues. For instance, when the place where the action happens is different from the place that reaps the benefits—like protecting the headwaters of stream to benefit downstream water quality—capturing that recommendation on a map continues to pose a challenge. Plus, many people who attended the workshops didn’t find the broad Open Standards categories an intuitive way to think about their work, and so don’t find it an intuitive way to filter the Blueprint to find their piece of the greater vision, either. Instead, participants talked about areas of urban transition, areas of sea level rise transition, working lands, and buffering protected areas.

So in response to these challenges and feedback, Blueprint 2.0 will not include spatially explicit conservation actions. We plan to revisit this with Blueprint 2.1, when we make some minor improvements to the data in Blueprint 2.0. To make it easier to find your part of the Blueprint, we will substitute new filters like those mentioned above (e.g., urban transition, sea level rise transition, working lands, buffering protected areas). For making a compelling case to funders, we’re also considering less spatially explicit action targets, like “protect 10% of the Blueprint in the South Atlantic geography by 2050”.

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have thoughts on this new approach! You can comment on this post or email me at hilary_morris@fws.gov.