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3-Scale & Time
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5-Land Use
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13-Climate Change
14-Processes & Tools

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Chapter 1: Introduction  Shaping the Future with Conservation Planning

CHAPTER OVERVIEW: Conservation Planning: Shaping the Future, provides an introduction and a guide for anyone working to plan for the conservation of a landscape. The goal of a conservation plan is to maintain or enhance biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem structure while accommodating human-oriented land uses that may be detrimental to that goal. At its simplest, creating a plan requires the conservation planner to make decisions about the most appropriate land use for a given site at a given time. To make these decisions correctly requires the best available information about the natural systems being conserved, particularly the biological processes that comprise the system. Those processes are represented by the plant and animal communities that an ecosystem supports and the interactions between them. Shedding light on what these processes are and how to use them to guide conservation decisions is the purpose of this book. It outlines an approach using computer-based tools and procedures that are easily accessible via the Internet and incorporate the guidelines in the book... This book outlines a virtual journey through all the steps necessary to complete an ideal (at least at this point in time) conservation plan. Viewed through the lens of geodesign (Steinitz 2012), this approach is just one of seven possible ways that plans can be designed. Developing the plan requires the use of computer-based tools that provide a spatial representation of the biologic processes that comprise the ecosystem. It is likely that no real-world application will be able to use every step and every tool available. This book should help identify the best tools and approaches available for a conservation planner’s specific area of interest. It is important to realize that planning is an iterative process, and each iteration can improve on the previous version. Don’t be deterred by uncertainties; even a very simple conservation plan is better than no plan at all, as long as it is based on the best available science. The process can be revisited in the future and improved...This process can be envisioned as a flowchart such as figure 1.1 (right). The process starts within the circle at the bottom as goals and approaches are conceptualized. it is possible to imagine returning to the start to begin a new iteration of the process. On the other hand, in today’s world, irreversible changes in the landscape are occurring so rapidly that a single pass may be the more realistic image; a conservation planner may have only one opportunity to influence future changes.




Groves, C. R. 2003. Drafting a Conservation Blueprint: a Practitioner’s uide to Planning for Biodiversity

Margules, C. R., and Pressey, R. L., 2000. Systematic Conservation Planning. Nature 405(6783):243-53.

“The GIS History Project”

Pressey, R. L., and M. C. Bottrill. 2009. Approaches to landscape- and seascape-scale conservation planning: convergence, contrasts and challenges.

Steinitz, C. 2012. Esri GeoDesign Summit Presentation, Jan 5th, 2012. GeoDesign. (Video & Transcript)


Lance Craighead
Executive Director
Craighead Environmental Research Inst.
201 South Wallace Ave., suite B2D
Bozeman, MT 59715

TALK to the Author

Charles Convis
ESRI Conservation Program
Society for Conservation GIS
380 New York St, Redlands, CA

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AUTHOR Facebook Page


Powerpoint/Teaching Resources (tbd)

Society for Conservation Biology : SCB LinkedIn . SCB Facebook

Society for Conservation GIS . SCGIS LinkedIn . SCGIS Facebook

Journal of Conservation Planning

Best Practices in GIS Application and Design (Free Ebook Collection)

Steinitz, Carl 2011  "On Scale and Complexity and the Need for Spatial Analysis"

Geography by Design, Interview with Jack Dangermond, in New Geographies 4: Scales of the Earth  Ed by El Hadi Jazairy

Conservation Measures Partnership Standards for Conservation Project Management

The Nature Conservancy Atlas of Global Conservation

ArcGIS.com Conservation Planning Groups open to the Public: Conservation Planning

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Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Conservation Blueprint (view larger). The Conservation Blueprint is the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County's 2012 assessment of the natural health of Santa Cruz County – and their recommendations for the next generation of conservation of our natural world. The example webmap here illustrates methods for publishing and sharing a plan interactively for stakeholder input or conservation use. In this example, a mockup biodiversity survey layer was added for field biodiversity observations, with some example test points in the area of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

The Nature Conservancy – Ecoregional Priorities: (view larger) The TNC Ecoregional Portfolio includes biodiversity conservation targets (species and ecosystems) and goals for their conservation, as well as adding existing freshwater and marine portfolios to the terrestrial portfolio developed in the current data set. Each TNC ecoregional portfolio site (aka 'priority conservation area') represents not a conserved area, but a proposed conservation area as part of a hypothetical conservation reserve design which would meet conservation goals established by The Nature Conservancy. Each portfolio site is identified in the attribute table by a name and the ecoregional assessment area, or ecoregional portfolio, to which the site belongs. More information on TNC ecoregional portfolios can be found here: Deeper information can also be accessed here:

Conservation Planning Stakeholder Input ArcExplorer Presentation Test: (View Larger) (Open Map in ArcGIS.com viewer) (Open Presentation in ArcGIS Explorer Online ) Public version of collaborative cloud service for stakeholder input categories to a published conservation plan, and to share reports, photos, notes and data about their concerns.  This is a prototype editable version with a linked slide presentation mode for presenting stakeholder results to the community. A read-only version also exists.



Alliance for Public Gardens GIS: Site Management planning design application (View App )
UC Davis Arboretum Collection Maps Online is an ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 Enterprise .NET Web ADF web application that allows users to explore the living plant collections of the UC Davis Arboretum in Davis, CA.This application is the first of its kind for public gardens, and was featured in the August 2010 issue of Esri's ArcWatch publication available at http://www.esri.com/news/arcwatch/0810/uc-davis.html



Landfire Tools for Landscape scale fire & land management Landfire Tools is a suite of downloadable GIS extensions and utilities with tutorials and documentation, to conduct fire and land management analyses such as the following: Multi-scale Resource Integration Tool, LANDFIRE Data Access Tool, Vegetation Dynamics Development Tool

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ArcGIS.com INTERACTIVE PLAN MAPS (click to pan/wheel to zoom, 'view larger' to open full map)