Member Programs Receive 2011 Network Awards
The staff of two programs from the NatureServe network accepted top honors for their outstanding contributions to effective conservation action during a ceremony at NatureServe’s annual Biodiversity Without Boundaries conference in May.
The Manitoba Conservation Data Centre (MBCDC)—part of the Biodiversity, Habitat and Endangered Species Section of the Manitoba Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch—received the Conservation Impact Award for maximizing the use of its biodiversity data across the province.
Meanwhile, the Alaska Natural Heritage Program (AKNHP)—which resides within the University of Alaska Anchorage’s College of Arts and Sciences—won the Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for their development of a pair of web-based mapping tools that deliver scientific information on state’s rare plants and animals and its invasive species.
Manitoba’s award highlighted three highly effective partnerships established by acting coordinator Nicole Firlotte and her colleagues. MBCDC spatial data enabled Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation and Nature Conservancy of Canada to identify priority landscapes in the mixed- and tall-grass prairies of southern Manitoba, including the targeting of specific properties for protection. MBCDC’s information and expertise also guided Manitoba Hydro to avoid all known locations of at-risk species in selecting the preferred route for a major new electrical transmission line, while returning observation data to MBCDC that contributes to better, more complete datasets. And maps, best-practice recommendations, and identification tips improved the ability of landowners, land managers, and road maintenance staff in rural municipalities to manage habitat for at-risk species like the Western prairie white-fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) and the Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae).
The AKNHP award cited director Keith Boggs and staff for the BIOTICS Data Portal and the Alaska Exotic Plants Information Clearinghouse (AKEPIC), two new tools that provide free access to the best available scientific data on the state’s rare plants and animals as well as invasive species. The selection committee called attention to the “notable combination of high-quality data, ease of use, and public accessibility” of both tools, now widely used by practitioners and influential decision-makers within state and federal government agencies.