Conservation Blueprint 2.1

Conservation Blueprint 2.1

Overview of the Blueprint

The South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint is a living spatial plan to conserve natural and cultural resources for future generations. It identifies shared conservation priorities across the South Atlantic region.

Blueprint 2.1, released in August 2016, is a totally data-driven plan based on terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and cross-ecosystem indicators. It uses the current condition of those indicators to prioritize the most important areas for natural and cultural resources across the South Atlantic geography. Through a connectivity analysis, the Blueprint also identifies corridors that link coastal and inland areas and span climate gradients. The Blueprint reflects extensive feedback from the broader cooperative community, with more than 400 people from over 100 different organizations actively participating in its development so far.

The need for a blueprint

The lands and waters of the South Atlantic are changing rapidly. Climate change, urban growth, and increasing human demands on resources are reshaping the landscape. While these forces cut across political and jurisdictional boundaries, the conservation community does not have a consistent cross-boundary, cross-organization plan for how to respond. The South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint is that plan.

While spatial conservation planning is not a new concept, the Blueprint is unique in a few ways:

  1. The Blueprint was developed by the cooperative, for the cooperative–not for any one organization.
  2. The Blueprint operates at a bigger scope and scale, stitching together natural and cultural resources as well as multiple states, ecosystems, and species.
  3. The Blueprint serves as an adaptation strategy by incorporating sea-level rise and urbanization projections.

Implementing the Blueprint

The Blueprint has already been used in at least thirty different projects by organizations like the Georgia and South Carolina Departments of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and others. The Blueprint has helped members of your cooperative attract national fire resilience funding to the region, compete for coastal wetlands protection and climate-smart wildlife management grants, provide landscape-scale context for public lands planning, and prioritize fish passage efforts. The South Atlantic LCC intends the Blueprint to eventually become a “gold standard” for guiding large landscape conservation.

Exploring the Blueprint

You can explore the Blueprint in three ways:

The Simple Viewer provides an easy way to explore summarized Blueprint and indicator information. The CPA provides detailed metadata and offers more advanced functions like overlaying multiple layers and exporting maps. You can also download the Blueprint to import directly into your desktop GIS software.

Known Issues

Here are the known issues identified with the latest version of the Blueprint:

  • Some aquatic areas, particularly smaller rivers and streams, are over-prioritized. The new imperiled aquatic species indicator is at a subwatershed (HUC12) scale while the species hotspots it seeks to depict are often only a part of that subwatershed.
  • Some aquatic areas important for migratory fish are being under-prioritized in areas far upstream due to issues in the migratory fish connectivity indicator.
  • The eastern part of the right whale calving grounds (off the coast of Georgia and Florida) is under-prioritized. Current right whale models are under-predicting density in that area. Model improvements based on additional data are underway. New right whale models are expected by Fall/Winter 2016.
  • Piedmont prairie areas are under-prioritized. These are not well captured with current indicators and depicting condition and extent of this ecosystem continues to pose a challenge.
  • Urban open space is poorly captured in Georgia and South Carolina. The TNC Secured Lands database is currently missing many urban protected areas in these states. The 2015 updated of the Secured Lands database, due for release later in 2016, will fill in many of these missing urban protected areas.
  • Congaree National Park is under-prioritized. This is likely due to the forested wetland bird indicator under-predicting Swainson’s warbler in the area.
  • The low-urban historic landscapes indicator affects corridors too strongly in some areas. This leads some corridor routes to go through overly developed areas at the expense of slightly longer, but more suitable, routes.