Precision conservation—projects at the right place, the right scale, the right size, and the right time—is redefining how landscape conservation is approached. Instead of sweeping acquisitions or all-encompassing legislation, we can use the latest high-resolution datasets to conduct advanced geospatial analysis that allows us to better target and implement on-the-ground best management practices.
The Conservation Innovation Center (CIC) works with organizations of all types and sizes, including land trusts, community watershed organizations, soil and water conservation districts, private environmental firms, and local, state, and federal agencies. No matter who we work with, we emphasize the importance of understanding each organization’s unique challenges and designing customized solutions. We strive to help our partners integrate geospatial data and analyses into their work to effectively overcome these challenges. In addition to developing new products, we also conduct hands-on training, host workshops, and create customized user’s guides.
The CIC has developed a suite of web applications that help organizations prioritize areas across a landscape that meet criteria of their choosing. A panel of “sliders” allows users to dynamically weight a variety of source data, such as historical and cultural resources, priority habitats, ecological connectivity, relationship to existing protected lands, and proximity to existing public access points, and run a dynamic analysis to identify priority landscapes that meet your criteria.
By running the tool several times with different parameters, users can quickly understand how the relative importance of regional priorities changes or stays the same based on their preferences.
These tools allow users of all technical abilities to quickly and easily access the information they need to make evidenced based decisions about where to work.
Restoration and conservation partners often require more advanced tools and geospatial analysis to prioritize their work and identify places where they can install best management practices (BMPs) to reduce soil loss and nutrient runoff, protect critical habitats, or restore scenic viewsheds.
The Conservancy has worked closely with these groups to provide desktop and web-enabled tools for calculating:
Riparian Buffer Gap Analysis – Identify and prioritize riparian buffer gaps for restoration based on high resolution elevation models, drainage area size, and land cover type
Flow Path Modeling – Calculate drainage basins and outlet points from a custom polygon, and produce maps that depict concentrated surface flow at the parcel scale.
York County Storm Water Consortium BMP Reporting Tool – Dynamically calculate and estimate land treated by and draining into a conservation or restoration BMP.
These conservation prioritization tools are powerful for a number of reasons, but perhaps most notably, because they allow for individual or collective use to identify opportunities for resource sharing and cooperative action among partner organizations.
This makes them ideal for stakeholder meetings or similar community-based conservation efforts that rely on finding common ground across multiple interests and perspectives.