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© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Influences

What might influence the ability to achieve long-term conservation goals? While there are many potential influences, the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership has chosen to initially analyze and map six key factors.

 The first three of these relate to factors that are sometimes categorized as threats but in actuality they may provide opportunities as well. They include:

  • Energy Resources & Infrastructure: Energy is a vital input to supporting our way of life. Yet, energy production and transmission also have the potential to adversely impact values we treasure. Harmonizing our needs with our values requires solid understanding of both conservation goals and existing and proposed energy infrastructure. The purpose of this map is to give a comprehensive overview of the energy resources and activity in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  • Inundation: A changing climate can have a wide range of impacts on the Chesapeake landscape. Among them are inundation and flooding associated with long-term sea level rise, changing rainfall regimes, and the impacts of major storms. The known and projected areas of inundation can and should influence conservation. This map depicts four aspects of inundation: Projected Inundation from Sea Level Rise; Projected Marsh Migration Areas; Projected Storm Surge Impact Areas; and 500 Year Floodplains.
  • Projected Development Pressure (Through 2050): Another 4.5 million people are expected to live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2050. Where will these additional people live? How will that affect, or be affected by, land conservation efforts? This map illustrates the locations where development pressure is expected to be heaviest between now and 2050.

The second set of analyses focus on the capacity to carry out conservation. These include:

  • Land Trust Capacity: The land trust community has been protecting land for multiple values for decades. Today, some 100 regional, state, and local land trusts operate in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, collectively protecting more than 1.8 million acres of land. Many of these organizations have significant capacity to protect more important lands in the future. The additional capacity of strategic, national land conservation partners can help accelerate conservation in areas of shared interest. This map illustrates land trust staff capacity based on defined service areas of land trusts at the county level.
  • Farmland Preservation Capacity: Preserving farmland to support working farms and food supply has long been a focus of conservation efforts in many portions of the Chesapeake watershed. And those efforts have been remarkably successful. For example, since 1989 the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program has protected more than 500,000 acres  on over 4,700 farms. Where is the capacity to support future farmland conservation? How is it concentrated? What does this suggest about where future farmland protection might be most likely or most effective? This map illustrates where capacity for implementing farmland protection currently exists, based on past accomplishments.
  • Conservation Focal Areas: Where are the existing focal areas of conservation work within the Chesapeake watershed? This map depicts landscapes with on-going recognized dedicated efforts to conserve additional lands.

The partnership anticipates analyzing additional factors in the future, such as other aspects of climate influences.

Viewing these influencing factors along with individual goal maps or the composite Valued Lands map can easily suggest a range of questions: What risks does energy development pose to conserved or valued lands? Where is it best to site energy development to avoid impacts to valued resources? How should conservation be influenced by or help mitigate areas subject to inundation? What conservation values are threatened by projected development patterns and how should they be conserved? How does existing conservation capacity match with highest priority conservation areas?

Addressing these questions can help ensure strategic conservation planning.

Influences and Capacity

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