The Open Space Age
The clean air, water, food, fibers, and fuels we need for every-day living all require open space—forests, grasslands, farms, ranches, wetlands, riparian areas, urban greenways, and the like. Open space provides critical plant and wildlife habitat, and sustains human health and economic well-being. But, in the face of economic and cultural pressures, and myriad environmental concerns, how do landowners and community planners determine and prioritize what is the best use of their space?
NatureServe’s Conservation Planning Initiative strives to inform land use decisions at the national, regional, and local levels by providing the sound science and strategic support tools needed to make those decisions. When land use decision makers understand the biological and ecological value of conserving open space, they can recognize the impacts of proposed land use decisions and identify areas appropriate for conservation and development.
A Comprehensive Approach
Our Conservation Services team works with multi-disciplinary groups of collaborators to address nearly any aspect of a conservation planning project, including community engagement, ecology, land management, and infrastructure. Our services include:
- Project conception and partnership building
- GIS mapping and modeling
- Conservation plan development
- Impact assessment and mitigation plan development
- On-the-ground and at-the-workstation assessments of important habitats, plants, and animals
- Custom analyses, such as economic evaluations, ecosystem services, and population viability analyses
- Building toolkits with advanced software, such as NatureServe Vista, to build project capacity
Planning in Action
In this issue of Milestones, we highlight just a few of the recent land use projects to which we are contributing our data, tools, and know-how. Our efforts focus on helping local communities, resource managers, and environmental groups as they grapple with land use decisions.
In an age where concerns about climate change, sustainable energy, and economic viability interplay at the forefront of nearly every land use decision, it is increasingly important to incorporate both biodiversity and local capacity into the decision-making process. Through our Conservation Planning Initiative, NatureServe is enabling land use planners to make effective land use decisions that balance these concerns and conserve the open spaces on which we all rely.
- Leslie Honey
- Vice President of Conservation Services