A comparison of spatial conservation planning tools created by the Middle Southeast Blueprint, Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, and East Gulf Coastal Plains Joint Venture in the Southeastern United States
Conservation planning products should enable organizations to achieve focus, coordination, and increased effectiveness to maximize ecological benefits. The increasing availability of large-scale geospatially-explicit data has greatly enhanced the ability to develop spatial planning resources and decision-support tools. However, the increasing number of tools and resources has also increased the awareness that independently created tools have the potential to misalign priorities within the same geography, i.e., assign different levels of priority to the same location or resource. In the southeastern United States, the largest conservation planning projects are partnership-driven and landscape-oriented, including Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). Despite SECAS and Joint Ventures operating with many of the same partner agencies and organizations, the planning products created by them are largely derived independent of one another. The purpose of this project was to assess the degree of alignment between Joint Venture and SECAS planning products and to identify opportunities for increased efficiency and communication of priorities. We developed a framework for quantitative and qualitative assessment of alignment using methods that include logistic regression, rank correlation, and overlap analysis. This project focused on prioritization tools created by the Lower Mississippi Valley and the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Ventures within the Middle Southeast subregion of the Southeast Conservation Blueprint 2020. Informed by specific case studies and examples, this project culminates in a list of best-management practices that conservation planners may refer to when designing future or updating current spatial models. We highlight how variation in programmatic objectives, inclusion of the conservation estate, size of evaluated planning unit, and terrestrial vs. aquatic priorities as potential drivers of alignments in the geography. Though misalignments in planning tools pose several risks and challenges, alignments promote convergence in priorities that could strengthen conservation efforts and highlight areas of greatest opportunity.
Southeast United States
College of Forest Resources
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC)
conservation planning, Blueprint, Joint Ventures, alignment
Thornton, B., K.O. Evans, D. Jones-Farrand, S. McKnight, A. Mini, C. Rideout. A. Elliott. 2022. Understanding Alignments in Spatial Conservation Planning in the Southeast, Version 1.0. Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS.