Building Capacity for Coastal Conservation Planning in Georgia

Georgia coast, United States; approximately 3.8 million acres

About This Project

Vista was used as the central organizing tool within a broader toolkit that included Maxent for species distribution modeling, Circuitscape for modeling habitat connectivity, and Marxan for generating optimal conservation priority networks. Vista was used to develop the following summaries and assessments:

  • integrate all of the map and expert knowledge information on conservation elements (an extensive list of ecosystems, priority biological communities, and individual species)
  • characterize a current scenario, and a future scenario with expected future development, and a projection of sea level rise
  • assess the impacts of each scenario
  • interoperate with Marxan to generate a conservation priority network for the region
  • downscale the regional project to two county-level projects
  • integrate more detailed county land use data and evaluate the scenarios at the county level

Goal

Coastal land use planning and resource management decisions are made at a variety of government levels from federal to state or regional to local. Regional and local agencies in charge of policy-making and land use planning are in great need of increased technical capacity for conducting the kind of analyses and planning necessary to address coastal conservation challenges. Increased capacity is required in the form of better data and data management and distribution systems, science-based methodology, decision support tools, and training to apply the data and tools to coastal planning and management. The purpose of this project was to provide scientific and technical assistance to increase such capacity within participating state, regional, and local government entities and enable them to develop and establish concrete and scientifically defensible plans of action for conserving Georgia’s precious natural habitats and coastal ecosystems.

Significance

The Vista project databases, report, and system maintenance guide were delivered to Georgia DNR to support update of their State Wildlife Action Plan for the region and provide planning assistance to local governments.