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Nature’s Network

Nature’s Network
Developers: 

A team of scientists facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Year released/updated: 
2017
Summary: 

Nature’s Network is a suite of decision-support tools and datasets, including a conservation design that depicts a network of connected, intact, and resilient areas -- both lands and waters -- that are considered the best places to begin strategic conservation planning to support a sustainable future for both human and natural communities across the 13-state Northeast region.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
Also good for: 
Products: 
Requirements: 

A reasonable amount of time is required to become familiar with the online mapping platform options. Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data.

Additional details: 

Nature’s Network is a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and representatives from all 13 Northeast states, using innovative modeling approaches developed by UMass Amherst and other science partners, to identify the best opportunities for conserving and connecting intact habitats and ecosystems and supporting imperiled species, to help ensure the future of fish and wildlife across the Northeast region. Nature’s Network offers a regional landscape conservation design and a suite of decision-support tools that makes available much of the state-of-the-art modeling done by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) project at UMass Amherst. The web mapper interface presents a huge variety of customizing options, that frequent users will familiarise themselves with and use. Nature’s Network incorporates, DSL Ecological Integrity MetricsDSL-Conductance, and Resilient & Connected Landscapes. Elements of Nature’s Network include:

  • Terrestrial and Wetland Core Network: Intact, well-connected places that, if protected, will support a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants, and the ecosystems they depend upon. Core areas are linked together by a network of connectors designed to enable the movement of animals and plants between core areas and across the landscape into the future.
  • Habitats for Imperiled Species: This contains three datasets: Habitat Importance for Imperiled Species, Core Habitat for Imperiled Species, and Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species.
  • Aquatic Core Networks: This includes three data layers: River and stream (lotic) core network, Lake and pond (lentic) core network, and Aquatic buffers.
  • Marsh Migration Zones: This dataset depicts potential salt marsh migration zones at various sea level rise scenarios from 0-6 feet. Identification of suitable uplands adjacent to tidal wetlands is based on topography, habitat type, land use, and development, and can be used for facilitating marsh migration through land protection and/or management.
  • Regional Flow: This dataset, developed by The Nature Conservancy, identifies where population movements and potential range shifts may become concentrated or where they are well dispersed, and it is possible to quantify the importance of an area by measuring how much flow passes through it, and how concentrated that flow is. The results can be used to identify important pinch points where movements are predicted to concentrate, or diffuse intact areas that allow for more random movements.

Some elements of Nature’s Network, such as the Terrestrial and Wetland Core Network, represent a regional plan for conserving wetland and terrestrial biodiversity. Other components, such as Habitats for Imperiled Species and Marsh Migration Zones, can be used as inputs for creating conservation plans at the local, state or regional scales.

The developers have compiled testimonials from Nature's Network users.

Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

DSL - Designing Sustainable Landscapes

DSL - Designing Sustainable Landscapes
Developers: 

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Year released/updated: 
March 2020
Summary: 

Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL) provides data and assessments for strategic habitat conservation, by assessing the ecological integrity of ecosystems, evaluating regional connectivity, assessing risk of development, and modeling climate niche and landscape capability for key wildlife species in the Northeast.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Most suitable for: 
Also good for: 
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
Products: 
Requirements: 

Access to, and familiarity with, GIS is required to explore downloaded data, as well as the capacity to work with large datasets.

Additional details: 

Beginning in 2000, the Landscape Ecology Lab at UMass Amherst has used landscape-scale modeling to produce data to support conservation decision-making. Since 2010, the lab has provided conservation planning data and products covering 13 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, in a project called Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL). The DSL approach follows a logical sequence from data generation and compilation, to assessment and modeling, to conservation design. DSL models provide much of the content of Connect the Connecticut, and Nature’s Network, both developed in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, and conservation NGOs. DSL involves two major processes:

1. Characterization involves the compilation, correction, and generation of data for use in landscape modeling. Examples include the developed land uses, ecological communities, ecological settings variables, and climate data. These data are used as inputs for landscape assessments, although they can be useful on their own for conservation decision-making.

2. Assessment is the process of integrating data and using models to make landscape predictions. Examples include the use of CAPS (Conservation Assessment & Prioritization System) to assess the ecological integrity of ecological communities, an evaluation of regional connectivity, use of the SPRAWL model to assess risk of development, and the modeling of climate niche and landscape capability for representative wildlife species or species at risk. Incorporation of climate data into the models facilitates predictions of future ecological integrity, connectivity, landscape capability and potential habitat refugia.

The DSL data products likely to be most useful for land protection and stewardship are:

  • Regional CAPS Index of Ecological Integrity (IEI)

  • Conductance index (an measure of the importance of land for regional-scale connectivity)

  • Integrated probability of development

  • Focus species models

  • Conservation design elements from Nature’s Network

Some of the DSL data has been clipped to state boundaries.

Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

Adaptation Workbook

Adaptation Workbook website
Developers: 

Northern Institute of Applied Climate Sciences (NIACS), US Forest Service

Year released/updated: 
2019
Summary: 

The Adaptation Workbook helps identify and tailor climate adaptation actions for given land management goals, with a focus on forests, agriculture and natural resources, at a location of interest in the Northeast or Midwest.

Geographic scope: 
Conservation tasks: 
Conservation phases: 
Forest conservation goals
Climate adaptation interests
Most suitable for: 
Products: 

Reports can be completed online or in hard copy.

Requirements: 

A reasonable amount of time and good knowledge of the land of interest.

Additional details: 

The Adaptation Workbook is a structured process to consider the potential effects of climate change, and to design land management and conservation actions that can help prepare for changing conditions. The process is completely flexible to accommodate a wide variety of geographic locations, ownership types, ecosystems, land uses, management goals, and project sizes. The Adaptation Workbook walks users through a process for considering climate change impacts and identifying management actions that could be taken to directly adapt to climate change. This resource incorporates rigorous science, with information and “menus” of actions for forests (including urban forests) and agricultural lands. The output of the process is a comprehensive climate adaptation plan. This application is most useful for users with clear management goals and knowledge about their property or ecosystem of interest.

There are a large number of case studies that show how Adaptation Workbook has been used by forest conservation practitioners.

Learn more about the terms used in this tool profile from the Glossary.

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