Strategic Conservation Assessment of Gulf Coast Landscapes

What is the Partnership?

The Strategic Conservation Assessment of Gulf Coast Landscapes project is a collaborative effort catalyzed by the Department of the Interior that capitalizes on the capacity of the private, state, and federal partnerships in the Gulf Coast Region (GCR).  The project is coordinated through a Core Working Group comprised of representatives from RESTORE Council member organizations and the other partnerships in which they are involved. This approach facilitates the synthesis of conservation planning in the GCR, providing a strong foundation for identifying conservation needs and priorities. Engagement with stakeholders from across the GCR will leverage existing efforts, avoid duplication, and ensure the values of local communities and residents are incorporated in all aspects of this project.

Laguna Madre Dunes | USFWS Woody Woodrow

Overview of the Project

The goal of the SCA project is to develop land conservation planning tools useful to RESTORE Council members in identifying and prioritizing voluntary land conservation opportunities, strategies, and projects within the Gulf Coast Region which reflect environmental and socioeconomic priorities of the Gulf Coast community.  This project is led through a cooperative partnership between Mississippi State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in direct collaboration with a core team of RESTORE Council agency representatives, large-scale conservation planners, as well as the broad community of stakeholders representing non-governmental conservation organizations, corporate entities, and private landowners with interest in Gulf Coast Conservation.

The SCA decision support tools will integrate the priorities and values for land conservation identified in local and regional plans with those identified by Gulf stakeholders.  At the core of the SCA project is an inventory and assessment of plans and shared priorities.  The SCA team will integrate priority data into a multi-criteria decision analysis framework to construct a flexible Conservation Prioritization Tool, which will identify a portfolio of optimized land conservation projects when provided with a given set of priorities. 

The final product created by the SCA team will be an Optimized Strategic Conservation Application, which will provide decision support capacity within a geospatial context.  Ultimately, the project team will develop a web-based mapping application where RESTORE Council members and Gulf stakeholders can scale their conservation and socioeconomic priorities in a visual environment to identify optimum areas for land conservation, and to help inform strategic investments at both individual watershed and regional scales.

To ensure the SCA project is locally and regionally relevant, interim products and draft deliverables will be brought to stakeholders in a series of charrettes. The charrettes will be used to share iterations of the three products (Inventory of Plans, Conservation Prioritization Tool, Optimized Strategic Conservation Application) and will allow stakeholders within each of the gulf states to assess and evaluate in small forums the suitability, completeness, and accuracy of plan-based priorities, draft products, and ultimately the decision support tools derived from them.

By developing a Gulf-wide decision support framework, and ultimately a mapping application which allows users to dial in local and regional priorities, the SCA products can help guide decisions that the RESTORE Council makes in where it invests future funds into land conservation activities, in a flexible and transparent manner.  By allowing end users to identify social, economic, and ecological priorities according to local needs the SCA tools can be used to identify strategies and opportunities that will maximize the benefits of land conservation.

What to Do on LandScope Gulf Coast

This portal currently includes data layers that will be used to develop the Strategic Conservation Assessment.  It will ultimately include products from the SCA project. 

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