In December 2022, representatives from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation were present in Montreal, Canada when 188 countries made an historic commitment adopting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). As a main outcome of Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties, the GBF is now the most significant agreement to date for bolstering global cooperation to conserve and restore nature. Since then, the Center has been engaging in discussions and planning across its networks of experts and institutions to best coordinate actions to support lasting conservation gains on the ground. With the importance of connectivity and landscape- and seascape-scale approaches emphasized in the GBF, it is clear that the Center has a significant role to play in its implementation.
Life seems to be coming full circle for Senior Conservation Scientist Dr. Annika Keeley. Annika currently resides in her sleepy German hometown of 6,000, working remotely for the Center for Large Landscape Conservation while visiting her parents – her typical habitat is that of Davis, California, just west of Sacramento. But it is her homeland countryside that spurred Annika’s love for nature and, more specifically, the science behind it.
WWF, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group today launched a new initiative to conserve nature’s connections: Wildlife Connect. The initiative aims to secure ecological connectivity, defined by the Convention on Migratory Species as the “unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth.” From great migrations of wildlife across landscapes and continents to river flows from mountain to sea, nature’s circulatory system of connections is essential for a healthy planet. Yet they are rapidly disappearing, destabilizing ecosystems and the essential benefits they provide for us all.
In an era where climate change, habitat loss, poaching and other human impacts put many species at risk, there is a need to understand where animals go and what they need to thrive. A new NASA-funded project—Room to Roam: Y2Y Wildlife Movements (Room2Roam)—aims to accelerate data analysis and coordination to improve wildlife management efforts across borders. The ambitious effort includes a regional network of partners in a major migration corridor of western North America.
Imagine a young male jaguar in the tropical Central American forests looking for a mate. In theory, he could roam from Mexico to Argentina, ensuring that the genetic pool is mixed for a good continuation of the species. In practice, he would have to go through rivers and mountains, but also human-made obstacles such as roads, cities, agricultural fields and other open areas that hinder travel.
This week the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies released a report showing a staggering 1.3 million acres of sagebrush habitat are being lost annually. Called “A Sagebrush Conservation Design Framework to Proactively Restore America’s Sagebrush Biome,” this new body of science uses some of the latest mapping tools to identify healthy and degraded sagebrush areas, where and how it’s being lost, and lays out a path to slow the loss.
Dr. David Theobald, a science advisor to the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, was recently awarded the 2022 Distinguished Landscape Practitioner Award by the North American Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology. This honor is bestowed to individuals who have made outstanding contributions over a period of years to the application of the principles of landscape ecology to real-world problems.
When we hear the term “ecological corridors” we tend to think of the natural pathways that land animals like elk or elephants use to move among larger natural areas to eat, drink, mate and meet other survival needs. Corridors are equally important for marine life like whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds, which depend on linkages between ocean areas for daily movement, seasonal migration, and completing their life cycles. Until recently, collaborative research and guidance on marine ecological connectivity had been lacking, but now the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is supporting coordination of work by a unique group of experts that is making the issue a top priority.
The ecological connectivity of marine and coastal ecosystems is essential. It requires linkages that connect our oceans’ critical habitats, species, and natural processes. These connections allow a variety of species to move and they also sustain important ecosystem functions such as fish larvae dispersal, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration—the ocean’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow climate change. To inform conservation efforts that maintain, enhance, and restore ecological connectivity of the oceans, a new publication was released today titled “Marine Connectivity Conservation ‘Rules of Thumb’ for MPA and MPA Network Design.”
State fish and wildlife managers recognize that keeping landscapes connected is an important conservation tool. Yet there is growing evidence that the impacts of climate change are already altering the needs and behaviors of animals, creating new patterns of movement throughout the landscape. Staff from the Center recently contributed to a new toolkit offering guidance on protecting wildlife movement and corridor habitat in the face of a changing climate.