Connectivity Conservation for the Earth's Resilience to Climate Change

Building a global movement to safeguard biodiversity by protecting and connecting landscapes.

Photo of Deb Davidson
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Gary Tabor, President

Initiative's representative date of birth

04/16/1958

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • United States

Headquarters location: city

Bozeman

Where are you making a difference?

Globally, North America, Western US.

Website or social media url(s)

www.largelandscapes.org facebook- https://www.facebook.com/centerforlargelandscapeconservation/ twitter- https://twitter.com/C_L_L_C

Date Started

10/2007

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan going forward)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €250k - €500k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

The Center for Large Landscape Conservation (the Center) was founded in 2007 to deliver connectivity conservation solutions that save biodiversity, increase resilience to climate change, and safeguard human health. We define connectivity conservation as “the action of individuals, communities, institutions, and businesses to maintain, enhance, and restore ecological flows, species movement, and dynamic processes across intact and fragmented environments”. This work is underpinned by mounting scientific evidence that protecting the interconnections of life across lands, freshwaters, and oceans is critical for saving nature. We support the growing efforts of people around the world to achieve lasting, large-scale connectivity conservation.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Human presence is encroaching into the last remote and biologically diverse places on the planet, the climate is changing, and up to 1 million species are at risk of extinction. All of this has decreased the ability of plants and animals to adapt as conditions change, while also increasing the proximity of humans to emerging infectious diseases. And much of the past century conservation has succeeded to protect critical and waters, most of these protected areas are isolated from each other.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The Center is leveraging this Biodiversity Challenge to formalize an “International Network for Connectivity Conservation- (INCC)- that will rally people, communities, institutions, governments, and sectors around the common goal of maintaining, enhancing, and restoring ecological connectivity. The overarching objective is to provide a coordinated response for enhanced biodiversity conservation that leverages multiple policy and implementation opportunities to deliver efficient, effective, and visible connectivity conservation. This network includes participants from government, international organizations, academia, NGOs, business, local communities, and indigenous peoples that support each other to increase the exchange of information, work on common projects, and achieve joint objectives. We consider creation of this network to be the next necessary step in our ongoing dedication to bring together diverse groups of people and facilitate collaboration that advances innovations in science, policy, and practice for connectivity conservation. The Center will be the lead organization, facilitator, coordinator, solicit new members, and secure resources with partners for the Alliance.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Large-scale conservation looks beyond the boundaries of ownership and jurisdiction to find commonalities that serve both the ecosystems and communities that live and work in them. Where often divergent views and competition for resources results in a lack of coordination, we find commonalities for partners to amplify their respective strengths and be part of achievements that are often much larger and more comprehensive. Approaches that we use include: - Supporting communities plan for climate change; - Leading connectivity science and research projects using spatial models and maps; - Informing better policies and laws to accelerate connectivity conservation; - Building collaborative partnerships to share information and resources.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Successful connectivity conservation is grounded in rich interactions between human society and nature in various cultural and socio-economic contexts. Protecting ecological connectivity means saving biodiversity while meeting a diversity of related objectives, including habitat conservation, climate change resilience, ecosystem service delivery, cultural preservation, recreation, economic development, etc. It therefore embraces multiple stakeholders that may have different interests and relationships to nature and each other, and that require reconciliation, identification of commonalities, provision of varying benefits, involvement in decision-making, and responsibilities for management. By forming the “INCC”, biodiversity, climate change, and human well-being are strategically linked together in shared experiences, cultural approaches, and practices across governance systems, communities, and sectors that instill the capacity for its work to evolve and address complex challenges.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Our past and current work has allowed us to build a network of practitioners that numbers 1,000 members globally, and 3,000 within North America. A FEW EXAMPLES: • Commitment of the 196 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, to conserve at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas through ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas; • Adoption of over 20 connectivity-related policy Resolutions since 1996 by the 1,200+ Members of the international Union for the Conservation of Nature; • Passage of corridors national laws and policies on connectivity in the countries of Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, Kenya, and Tanzania. • Endorsement of a policy resolution by the Convention on Migratory Species defining “ecological connectivity". • Passage of wildlife corridor protection legislation in the 6 states in the US.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The “International Network for Connectivity Conservation” is in itself a scaling-up of replicable strategies that the Center has been promoting since its inception. We are now increasing focus at the global level to enhance communication, information exchange, coordination of resources, and joint initiatives. Examples include: • Collaborating with 40+ government and NGO Members of IUCN to co-sponsor, promote passage, and then implement official policy resolutions related to connectivity conservation to be adopted during the next World Conservation Congress in 2021. • Operating and increasing membership in the IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group- including Working Groups- Transport, Marine Connectivity, Asian Elephants.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

Conserving ecological connectivity – and with it saving biodiversity, combatting climate change, and protecting human health – is important to families, communities, countries, and future generations. Without connectivity, ecosystems cannot function properly and lose their ability to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services that are essential to all life. The “INCC” confronts the fundamental problem that much of the world has already been degraded and fragmented by human activity. Thinking and acting at larger spatial scales allows for society to safeguard an array of invaluable resources like water and nutrient cycling, pollination, seed dispersal, food security, and disease resistance.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The Center for Large Landscape Conservation’s work in North America and around the world continues to be primarily supported by private foundations. This is in thanks to very dedicated supporters who realized the power of connectivity conservation as a cause long before others. Now, as our international engagement has grown, we have begun to form partnerships that have diversified the funding base. While we look forward to benefitting from trends of more philanthropy flowing toward connectivity conservation, the aim of the “INCC” is to raise and share resources together while also opening up new opportunities to work with members and external partners to deliver expert and technical capacity through a variety of fee-for-service approaches.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The Center for Large Landscape Conservation has a team of 22 dedicated scientists and conservationists with decades of experience working on large-scale conservation, wildlife corridor policy, wildlife crossings, and community participation. We have 11 board members with long-standing commitments to conservation. We've had tremendous growth in the past few years as the world has sought our expertise to create long-lasting and permanent connectivity conservation policies, plans, and practices.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Vittel page or contact
  • Email
  • We were encouraged to apply by Benfang Li, Ashoka ChangeMakers.

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

The activities of the “INCC” directly contribute to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity by building on the wealth of scientific information now at hand, including: • The goal of conservation must be to retain intact ecosystems, as they provide the best chance to conserve biodiversity in a fast-changing world (Scheffers et al., 2016); • To achieve long-term biodiversity outcomes, retaining ecological connectivity is essential in a time of climate change (Foden & Young, 2016; Gross et al., 2016); • Ecological networks for conservation are specifically designed, implemented and managed to ensure that ecological connectivity is maintained and enhanced where it is present, or restored where it has been lost (see Bennett, 2003; Bennett & Mulongoy, 2006); • Species loss, decreasing population sizes and significant range contractions are caused by human activities that have negative impacts on biodiversity as well as ecosystem functions and services.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Ecological Connectivity Conservation Workshop: Guiding the Carpathian Region: In November 2019, over 50 scientists, conservation experts, natural resource managers, and policy-makers from 13 countries gathered in Poiana Brașov (Romania) with the objective of advancing ecological connectivity in Romania and the Carpathian Mountains, one of Europe’s most biodiverse and intact ecosystems. The workshop brought together these diverse stakeholders to participate in the first-ever ground-testing exercise of the IUCN ‘Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Corridors and Networks’, which was reinforced with indispensable high-quality field data and results from spatial and ecological analyses. The Center served as the facilitator, coordinator and report author. A recent success related to the workshop was when Romania's government created an expert advisory group to inform connectivity-related decision-making around the country to ensure connectivity areas are conserved.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

There is currently no one else undertaking this work to the same scale as the Center. While many are active in distinct landscapes, regions, or countries, working on connectivity conservation- and many of them are our partners- there is no global-wide effort. “International Network for Connectivity Conservation” is the first instance we are aware of that is created to coordinate people, communities, institutions, governments, and sectors around the world. We will pull together current partners and engage new partners to join the Network and grow this new conservation practice. Some of our key partners are World Wildlife Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Network for Landscape Conservation, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

Our decades of work was recognized by the IUCN WCPA when we were asked to Chair the Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group and lead the 3 year process to develop guidelines and a network. We have secured funding for that effort and our other connectivity work, primarily from foundations, NGO-partners, some government support and donors. See: www.bbc.com/future/article/20200318-the-worlds-largest-nature-reserve?ocid=ww.social.link.email

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

As this is the first attempt to seek funding to formalize the “International Network for Connectivity Conservation”, there have not yet been specific grants for this effort as a stand-alone. However, the work that has gone into the efforts that have laid much of the groundwork for this proposal have garnered attention and funding in the following ways: 25% from individual supporters, 65% from private foundations, and 10% from NGO contracts and consultations.

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

In addition to the numerous ways that we have already detailed in this proposal how we plan to influence our field of work, it is to be emphasize that the “International Network for Connectivity Conservation” aims to serve as a hub of activity, strategy, and inspiration, especially beyond existing partners and the conservation community. If successful, the prize money will be used to seek matching funds, hold a virtual or in person meeting of Founding Partners, form a work plan, support the assessment and planning for at least 3 pilot project landscapes (which we are already laying the ground work in), create a website presence for publicizing the related work and achievements, and ensure Alliance membership development takes place by holding meetings at related global and regional conferences (World Conservation Congress, IENE, CBD, ACLI, etc).

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Photo of Stephanie H. Ambar

Congratulations for your great work, Deb! Connectivity Conservation is indeed crucial for biodiversity preservation, your approach is really tackling it from a systems-change approach, which is quite impressive. I had to look at the project website though to get a better understanding on what you actually are doing and am unsure about which portion of your work you focusing on with your application: are you focusing on the "Leading an International Connectivity Conservation Network" or the "Connectivity Conservation Planning Study"? Or both? In either case you really need to add more concrete data on the question about impact. A more concrete and descriptive answer to the question about "what is your solution" would also be helpful. If you move to the refinement phase and have any specific questions about this feedback or other sections of the form, please write to the challenge team via email.
Warm regards and wish you all the best with the continuation of the project!