Categorized | Climate Change

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives: Where the funding has gone

 The establishment of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) is an initiative of the Department of the Interior to better coordinate, collaborate, and build capacity for landscape-scale conservation.  The initiative was launched in response to climate change and other large-scale environmental challenges that cross jurisdictional boundaries, requiring collaborative solutions. Part partnership development, part funding stream for science and technical capacity, there are now LCCs that cover the entire United States and U.S. Territories. Secretary Salazar’s Secretarial Order (No.3289) which ordered the formation of LCCs and CSCs states that: “The conservation community must establish increasingly effective and coordinated mechanisms for science development, the sharing and transfer of science and related information, and the creation of innovative and effective science-based conservation tools, all predicated upon on collaboratively developed priorities.”

In order to better understand what types of projects Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) are funding, Defenders broke them down into 5 possible categories: Modeling Impacts, Conservation Planning, On the Ground Monitoring, Data/Information Sharing, Development Collaboration Platforms, and other.  These categories were derived after looking into the kinds of projects the Department of Interior appeared to have intended LCCs to fund and from looking at a sampling of projects LCCs were currently funding. 

When examining the current funding trends of LCCs, we found that in the past two years of funding, most LCCs have dedicate at least half of their funding towards modeling impact projects. As LCCs mature and fill-in critical information and capacity gaps, they need to increase their attention to landscape-level conservation planning. Collaborative planning at the landscape scale and agreeing on shared conservation priorities is the only way we are going to be able to conserve wildlife and ecosystems in the face of a rapidly changing earth.


Categories of Funding

Modeling Impact Projects are those which evaluated historical and predicted data in order to demonstrate clear impacts of climate change and other ecological stressors.  These types of projects include: vulnerability assessments, sea-level rise modeling, risk-mapping, and future distribution mapping. An example of a modeling impacts project from the California LCC is: “Sea-level Rise Modeling Across the California Salt Marsh Gradient for Resource Managers”.

Conservation Planning Projects are those which develop strategies and planning guidelines which respond to climate stressors.  They incorporate the climate science provided by Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and other partners into decision-making tools.  A strong example of a conservation planning project from the California LCC is: “Integrating Science into Decisions: Climate Change/Land Use Change Scenarios and Outreach for Habitat Threat Assessments on California Rangelands.”

On the Ground Monitoring Projects are those which fund studies collecting actual data in the field.  These projects are generally aquatic or avian monitoring or other forms of data collection.  An example of an on the ground project from the Great Northern LCC is: “Establishing aquatic monitoring programs for large-scale Restoration projects: Building understanding for watershed conservation in the face of climate change”

Data/ Information Sharing Projects are those that attempt to combine and make more available the variety of climate change data and information relating to climate change and other natural stressors.  These projects help bring data together across regional, state, and LCC lines so that studies are not repeated and studies can move more quickly.  An example of a data sharing project from the Arctic LCC is: “Fostering Collaboration Across the North America’s Arctic”

Other Projects include those which do not fit into any of the categories and most often are found to be those examining climate change’s effect on cultural resources.


This post was written by:

- who has written 16 posts on dotWild.

Noah Matson is Defenders’ Vice President Landscape Conservation and Climate Adaptation. Noah directs Defenders’ efforts to create and implement policies and strategies to safeguard wildlife and habitat from the impacts of climate change. Noah also oversees Defenders’ programs to improve the management of wildlife and habitat on federal public lands including national forests, national wildlife refuges, and the National System of Public Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

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dotWild is the blog of scientists and policy experts at Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.