By Cherie Keller and Sarah Friedl
The Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC), one of 22 LCCs throughout North America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, is an applied conservation partnership with the goal of fostering landscape-scale conservation across man-made boundaries to sustain natural and cultural resources for the benefit of both people and wildlife. Although PFLCC’s focus is a single state, and provides funding to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) to conduct some of the program’s work. Its missions and values are similar to those of Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative (FWLI), the PFLCC and FWC are working together and aligning many aspects of their respective programs. The alliance of FWC and PFLCC with its many governmental and non-governmental partners, provides opportunities to coordinate conservation designs, avoid duplicated effort, and leverage resources.
PFLCC uses an adaptive management framework of Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC), a science-based, transparent and accountable method for conservation planning, design and delivery (see SHC figure). The framework begins with a high degree of planning, but repeatedly cycles through delivery, re-evaluation, and revision. PFLCC’s Conservation Blueprint V 1.0 (see Conservation Blueprint figure) was adapted from the Florida Cooperative Land Cover amp and further refined by the top two priority levels of the Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project (CLIP), a collaborative, natural resource prioritization model. The PFLCC’s Priority Resources are the biological, ecological and cultural features and ecological processes that are identified as most important, and are the core of PFLCC’s planning. The current Blueprint displays Terrestrial and Freshwater PRs (see PFLCC’s website below). Future versions will include Estuarine and Marine PRs that are currently in development.
The condition of each PR will be measured through Conservation Targets (CTs), or ‘biological indicators’ relating to important attributes of the PR. Effective CTs are informative, responsive to the environment and management, and have monitoring data available. We enlisted stakeholders to generate lists of potential CTs (e.g., important attributes of a PR) and their potential measurements through brainstorming workshops. Before each workshop adjourned, stakeholders prioritized each list of potential CTs for further evaluation.
Each suggested CT and potential metrics must be vetted for potential selection as a final CT. First, there must be data. At a minimum, data must be readily available for a large portion of the PR, and be updated relatively frequently. Numerous entities collect conservation data in Florida, but not always in a consistent manner statewide nor stored in a collective repository. More often, data are collected in a localized area for a focused purpose, and are not part of a coordinated, statewide effort. Fortunately, there are data that meet our criteria for many CTs and the vetting process forges on.
Once an initial set of CTs are selected (always an ongoing process), we will establish a ‘numerical target,’ or benchmark, for each CT. Targets will be adopted from current management plans when they exist, and determined by partner consensus when they don’t. CTs, along with their metrics and numerical targets, provide the means to evaluate PR condition and offer guidance as to which CTs and PRs are in greater need of attention and resources. CTs also provide the means to communicate PR condition, using simple data visualizations, to decision-makers and the public well beyond our immediate conservation community.
Workshops for the Estuarine and Marine PRs/CT identification wrapped up in June. You still have a chance to contribute comments and suggestions in an online forum. As always, we welcome your input! The tough process of vetting these data has just begun but we will keep you posted along the way.
For more information about the PFLCC, our staff, or learn about upcoming events, please visit our website.