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Conservation by Design: Promoting Resilient, Sustainable Lands and Waters in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes

Presented by Mark Davis - Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

March 17, 2016

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The Anthropocene has ushered in an era of unprecedented pressures on natural systems. Balancing the maintenance of critical ecosystem functions and values in working landscapes presents a particular challenge in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes geography. Comprehensive, partnership driven approaches in which collective action can bring about landscape-scale habitat conservation is thus an important goal in heavily impacted landscapes. As a component of Strategic Habitat Planning, Landscape Conservation Design is such an approach and has become the preeminent paradigm for addressing landscape scale conservation issues. The Prairie Research Institute is actively engaged in several landscape designs, each addressing unique challenges and geographies by convening a diverse and collaborative assemblage of state, federal, tribal, and non-governmental organizations. The convened working group then engages in a science-based approach to evaluate every acre of the landscape and identify key locations and creative practices to protect, enhance, and restore resilient, well-connected, and geographically broad ecosystems. The ultimate goal is to promote functions and values essential for water quality, fish and wildlife, and people throughout a given geography. In this seminar I will detail the process being employed to achieve this objective in several contexts, discuss a preliminary suite of ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural conservation targets, and identify expected products that comprise these Landscape Conservation Designs. Finally, we will discuss the overarching objective of these initiatives, which is the effective and efficient leveraging of conservation knowledge, capacities, and resources to achieve and sustain ecosystem functions and values of lands and waters for current and future generations.

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