New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

To develop the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan, more than a dozen partner organizations, including UNH Cooperative Extension, NH Audubon, and The Nature Conservancy, collaborated with NH Fish and Game to research, write, and compile the plan.

Scientists first merged data from several existing sources in the state to identify New Hampshire’s low and declining wildlife populations, as well as species that are indicative of overall wildlife diversity and health. Biologists developed comprehensive profiles of each of these species and habitats, then used Geographic Information Systems mapping both to assess the location and relative condition of key wildlife habitats, and to predict potential habitats. To determine both threats and exposure pathways that continue to affect the state’s natural resources at many levels, biologists completed a scientific risk assessment process for priority habitats and wildlife species.

Cross-referencing all of this information, Wildlife Action Plan team members were able to produce assessments and strategies at the species, habitat and landscape levels. The resulting strategies are organized under four focus areas, covering needed conservation actions at every scale, from local to global.

Regional air- and water-quality strategies target the reduction of harmful air and water pollutants by promoting sustainable energy, transportation and industrial development practices. Plans for local land and water conservation include approaches for promoting sustainable development and resource use in order to support wildlife health and diversity through a combination of coordinated working groups, technical assistance, and the production of targeted information and education materials.

Actions for biodiversity stewardship will help maintain New Hampshire’s biodiversity and habitats by coordinating management, restoration, and land and regulatory protection. And conservation science and information management actions will ensure that the best available science is used to adapt management protocols and monitor those species and habitats of greatest conservation concern.

Management

Nearly 27% of the state is now protected, thanks to large purchases of National Forest Land in the early 20th century and multi-agency efforts to place easements and protection on large tracts of forest in the latter part of the century. Nevertheless, 75% of these protected lands are in the northern half of the state, while many of the state’s most vulnerable species and habitats are found in the southern half.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in New Hampshire

The greatest current and future danger to New Hampshire’s wildlife is conversion of wildlife habitat into surfaces and structures – in a word: development. Many habitats are rapidly disappearing or are fragmented by roads and dams, and many ecosystems are pushed out of equilibrium by human activities.

New Hampshire is the fastest-growing state in the Northeast, with a human population increase of more than 17 percent from 1990 to 2004. Conversion of land use to residential development increased at almost twice that rate; so, despite many local land conservation victories, some critical species and habitats show declines that need to be addressed right now.

Even the best-protected wildlife populations and habitats – and the clean air and water they depend on – are threatened by climate change, environmental degradation and pollution. Species and habitats in geographic extremes, such as mountaintops, northern lakes and coastal islands, suffer most from climate change, while pollution such as acid deposition and mercury affects many habitats throughout the state.

Working Together for New Hampshire’s Wildlife

A wide diversity of stakeholders and members of the public were involved in the planning process. The Wildlife Action Plan brings together the latest science with the opinions of hundreds of conservationists, foresters, academics, managers, planners, landowners, hunters, anglers, community leaders and many others with a stake in wildlife and habitat conservation. 

Working with the Wildlife Action Plan coordinators, a Communications and Outreach Team developed and implemented plans to gather public input. At the beginning of the process, as part of a larger Northeast regional project, a random telephone survey provided information on New Hampshire residents’ wildlife priorities and concerns.

An all-day “Wildlife Summit” workshop brought together more than 100 people with an interest or an active role in conserving New Hampshire wildlife. An online survey helped further prioritize wildlife issues, and stakeholder meetings were held to understand participants’ perceptions of threats to our wildlife and habitats. A Wildlife Conservation Strategy Forum was held to gather input on some of the major conservation strategies, and a second Wildlife Summit took place to prioritize and begin implementation of the Wildlife Action Plan.

 

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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