The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Steering Committee met at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia on March 25-27, 2014 for its annual face to face meeting. During the meeting the Committee reviewed the progress of the Cooperative over the past twelve months and set the direction for the next 12-18 months. I am sharing the following highlights of this meeting on behalf of the Committee.
- The Committee applauded completion of version 1.0 of the shared Conservation Blueprint. This Blueprint identifies the places and the actions needed to sustain natural and cultural resources from the piedmont to the coastal plain to the ocean, based upon anticipated landscape and seascape change to the year 2050.
- The Committee supports version 1.0 of the Blueprint as the first step in a continuing effort to refine a shared vision for conservation action in the South Atlantic geography. With this in mind, the Steering Committee is releasing version 1.0 for testing and refinement. Steering Committee member organizations and the Cooperative’s “User” team will use the Blueprint over the coming year to inform select conservation decisions.
- The Committee charged the staff with completing version 2.0 of the Blueprint by the summer of 2015. Version 2.0 will integrate the expert knowledge driven approach of version 1.0, with a data driven approach that is more explicitly and quantitatively connected to our natural and cultural resource indicators. Version 2.0 will also be informed by what is learned in testing version 1.0 with real world conservation decisions made by a diversity of partners.
- The Committee agreed on a long-term goal that the Blueprint be used and recognized as a “gold standard” for guiding conservation investment, especially by myriad entities not currently around the table.
- The Committee acknowledged that this precedent setting vision for the future would not have been possible without the South Atlantic Cooperative. The Cooperative has provided the forum where partners have found common ground on shared regional conservation objectives. The members have invested in shared capacity and have engaged over 300 individuals in a new way of working together. Each member organization confirmed its continuing commitment to the mission of the Cooperative. Members also agreed to provide ongoing time and material support for Blueprint development and implementation. They expressed overwhelming interest in working to engage additional members of their organizations as well as additional stakeholders.
- The Committee also expressed its appreciation for the leadership of Marshall Williams (Department of Defense) as its chair over the past year, welcomed Mike Harris (Georgia DNR) as its new chair and Beth Stys (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) as its new vice chair.