The Power of Partnership

Part of the success of LandScope America revolves around collaboration:  an obvious example being the relationship between NatureServe and the National Geographic Society -- this is truly a natural partnership, one that is creating much synergy and, for those of us involved with this project, considerable excitement for the future.

I’d like to take this opportunity, however, to highlight another partnership that LandScope America builds upon, one that is unique and will contribute much to our future success. There exists a remarkable alliance of botanists, zoologists, ecologists, conservation planners, and data managers—some 800+ scientists and resource experts in all. These dedicated scientists work throughout the United States (and much of Canada and Latin America, as well) in programs called Natural Heritage programs. Together these programs are known as the Natural Heritage Program Network.

Although each program is administratively independent, the Network is coordinated by NatureServe. We are bound together by common goals, data standards, and methodologies. Collectively we are the world’s largest compilation of information on the ecology and distribution of rare plants, rare animals, and their habitats.

In Florida, where I work as director of Florida’s natural heritage program -- known as the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) -- our program has 36 staff. We develop and manage information on rare plant and animal species, and have thousands of specific location records for these species and their habitats in our databases. We have on-line field guides to the rarest plants and animals in Florida. We are Florida’s central repository for information on lands managed for conservation. We manage information on the locations of invasive exotic species -- a dire threat to the integrity of our natural lands. We’ve developed detailed, statewide plans of natural resource conservation priorities for Florida. And we have web tools to provide access to this information. This is a wealth of data and expertise to help inform conservation decisions in Florida.

Now, imagine NatureServe and the Natural Heritage Network bringing this or similar information together from all fifty states to help inform LandScope America -- Virginia NHP’s ConservationVision, Colorado’s Potential Conservation Areas, Montana’s incredibly information-rich website. These examples make it easier to understand the power of this unique partnership!

Gary Knight
Director, Florida Natural Areas Inventory

- Gary Knight

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