Overview - Conservation Planning & Design

Conservation Planning is the process of setting targets and developing the strategies and tools necessary to meet those targets as efficiently as possible.  In the CHJV, conservation planning follows the approach of Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC). SHC is an iterative and adaptive approach to conservation planning that focuses on outcome-based objectives (e.g., how many individuals of a species do we want to sustain through time) rather than output-based objectives (e.g., number of acres under management).  SHC attempts to target conservation action using the best-available science, and emphasizes evaluating actions to learn and improve subsequent decisions and actions.   The basic components of the SHC cycle include:

  1. Identifying priority species;
  2. Setting population targets as conservation goals for those species;
  3. Biological Planning – using scientific approaches to assess habitat conditions, and identify factors limiting populations;
  4. Conservation Design – developing decision support tools to guide conservation action towards achieving population targets in the face of changing conditions (Future Expectations), and to set habitat targets (i.e. how good, how much and where) needed to sustain species at the desired levels (Simulation Models);
  5. Conservation Delivery (a.k.a. Implementation) – applying conservation actions strategically
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation – to evaluate the population response to those actions.

The CHJV is engaged in conservation planning for all bird groups (forest birds, grassland birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and waterbirds) within the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region (CHBCR).  Each of these planning efforts is at a different stage in the process depending on the current state of knowledge for that bird group, the relative importance of the CHBCR to that bird group, and partner priorities.  However, all planning efforts share several common themes.  First, all focus on SHC as the most efficient approach to planning, though they may start at different points in the SHC cycle.  Also, they rely on geographic information systems (GIS – data mapping software) for data manipulation, analysis, and visualization.  This allows integration of different information sources to guide the planning process, as well as allowing outcomes to be forecast and visualized before time and money are spent putting habitat on the ground.  Last but not least, all planning efforts are partnership-driven.  Whereas the majority of analyses and tools are developed by CHJV staff or university scientists, all are guided and reviewed by the CHJV Science Teams to meet the needs of the partners.  As each planning process matures, every effort is made to integrate their objectives.