Strategic Conservation Planning
What is conservation planning?
Conservation planning is a strategic approach that allows for proactive conservation. It begins primarily with geographic information system (GIS) analysis of scientific data about species and habitat to identify areas with high conservation value. Areas may be deemed of high conservation value for a number of reasons. Some examples include biodiversity hotspots, presence of species at risk or critical habitat that supports species at risk, declining, rare, unique, or unprotected ecosystems, land near or connected to existing protected areas which expands the network, and land with aesthetic, cultural, or recreational value.
This kind of analysis helps conservation groups like the Nature Trust to determine the most important areas for private land conservation and target specific properties within these areas. GIS analysis is often coupled with ‘ground truthing’, which involves technicians conducting fieldwork in areas identified in the process to check the accuracy of the data.Example of a map used when planning landowner outreach for the LSJR conservation planning project
Conservation planning at the Nature Trust
In 2008, the Nature Trust identified the need for a planned strategic approach to land conservation. An initial province-wide conservation plan was developed, which identified six key areas that required increased conservation efforts or were not being targeted by any other conservation organizations. These areas include the Blue Bell Ecodistrict (northern border with Maine), the Lower St. John River (LSJR), the Moncton/Sackville region, the Nicolas Deny Ecodistrict (northeastern coastline), the Lower Bay of Fundy (southwestern coastline), and the St. Croix River watershed (southern border with Maine).
To follow up on this initial province-wide plan, the LSJR watershed was chosen for an in-depth, multi-partner analysis as a pilot project. Since then, the Nature Trust’s conservation planning efforts have expanded to two other regions—the Upper St. John River (USJR) and the St. Croix River watershed. The information collected in these projects provides the basis for proactive land acquisition and landowner outreach. It also helps to unify the conservation objectives of multiple stakeholder groups like government departments and NGOs.