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Conservation Planning Services
Conserving our Natural Heritage Through Better Planning and Integration with Other Human Needs

Conservation planning is about conserving natural values in an active landscape/seascape of competing uses, values, and other threats and opportunities. Whether it is single species conservation, a complete biodiversity conservation strategy, or a plan that integrates other human needs and values, NatureServe’s Conservation Planning Program can assist you.


Conservation planning can be a stand-alone process to identify key conservation areas and connections among them. However, it is best carried out in conjunction with broader planning for land/sea uses, infrastructure, and natural resource management (or more broadly Ecosystem Based Management or Green Infrastructure). Good planning requires good data, scientific methods and expertise, GIS and specialized tools. NatureServe has the broad expertise and experience to provide any level of assistance from scientific and technical support to complete planning and decision support solutions.

Conservation planning is a place-based process that incorporates the following considerations:

  • Respects and integrates local knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and values of the people in the planning region
  • Identifies key ecosystems, resources (natural and cultural), habitats, and values that should be conserved
  • Incorporates expert knowledge on the resources to provide a solid scientific basis for assessment and planning
  • Assigns quantitative “retention goals” that specify the amount of the resource to be maintained
  • Evaluates current and potential future threats and conflicts in a scenario-based approach and develops alternatives that meet the goals but reduces conflicts with other appropriate uses and values
  • Applies best practices for systematic conservation planning, ecosystem based management, green infrastructure, and climate change adaptation in developing solutions
  • Incorporates landscape connectivity and species movement corridors
  • Integrates with other sector planning such as land use, resource management, infrastructure, and energy planning to reduce conflicts and ensure multiple objectives can be met
  • Results in a plan that is implementable but dynamic for future changes and updates and is anticipatory and resilient to climate change.
Features & Benefits

Conservation planning and ecosystem management are complex and rapidly evolving disciplines that must be customized for each locale and situation. NatureServe's conservation planning team includes planners, ecologists, and GIS and Decisision Support specialists with advanced degrees and decades of experience. Services we bring to bear on your project include:

  • Partnership building and facilitation to draw out the conservation values and requirements and support ongoing plan implementation and updates
  • Ecological knowledge and data provision and development to determine specific biodiversity conservation needs
  • GIS mapping and modeling services to compile or develop the data needed for the planning process such as predictive species distribution models
  • Scenario-based gap analysis and cumulative effects assessment to determine shortfalls in retaining conservation values based on current land use, current policies, potential threats and disturbances, and proposed policy changes or development activities
  • Conservation plan development to mitigate threats and develop an integrated plan to achieve conservation objectives in collaboration with other competing needs
  • Integration of data, knowledge, models, and analyses in the NatureServe Vista decision support system and other technology tools such as Marxan to facilitate ongoing analysis, planning, and implementation by local users
  • Training in methods and tools to ensure lasting capability

Additional custom analyses conducted through other NatureServe programs, members, and partners in such areas as:

  • Economic evaluations
  • Ecosystem services
  • Population viability analysis
  • Fully integrated land use or management plan development
  • Conservation area monitoring and management plans

Our conservation analysis and planning services can be applied to a large variety of projects where we and our partners have experience including:

  • Landscape assessment and prioritization
  • Conservation planning for species or biodiversity generally including HCPs
  • Green infrastructure planning
  • Local or regional land use planning
  • Transportation planning applying the Integrated Ecological Framework developed by NatureServe and partners
  • Refuge Vulnerability Assessment and Alternatives (RVAA)
  • Military Integrated Resource Management Planning (RMP), Joint Land Use Studies (JLUS), and REPI
  • Public lands land use and resource management planning
  • Open space program prioritization mapping and processes
  • Green development siting and evaluation
  • Marine protected area, marine spatial planning, and integrated land-sea planning

Conservation Planning Resources

  • Learn about and download NatureServe’s conservation planning software, NatureServe Vista
  • Find data and local expertise to support your conservation planning
  • Learn more about your area, existing conservation plans, and other information through Landscope America