Invited Speaker Abstracts

Students Solving Problems for the National Wildlife Refuge System: Precedents and Possibilities
Brian Czech
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System has a well-established tradition of welcoming student involvement in conservation issues from the field through regional offices to national headquarters. Projects pertaining to landscape-level conservation planning have entailed collaborative efforts with numerous colleges and universities. One example worth exploring for its precedent value is the collaboration between the Refuge System and the University of Maryland Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program. Cohorts of master’s candidates have conducted semester-long “problem-solving exercises” dealing with climate change planning, sea-level rise modeling, conservation gap analysis, and valuation of Refuge System ecosystem services. These exercises have resulted in durable Refuge System products, processes, and offshoot projects. Many students – graduate and undergraduate – have been involved without the benefit of such formal programmatic structure, too. Perhaps the primary ingredient in such cases is student pro-activity. Opportunities for student/Refuge System collaboration run the gamut of research, management, law enforcement, and policy issues, but landscape-level conservation planning is currently a major trend in Refuge System philosophy and programs. In particular, the movement toward Landscape Conservation Designs creates substantial need and opportunity for students and other academic entities. Student collaboration with the Refuge System sometimes leads to employment, and almost always provides a fulfilling educational and professional experience.

Protecting Maine’s North Woods:  Using All the Tools in the Tool Box
Cathy Johnson
Natural Resources Council of Maine

Landscape scale conservation in northern Maine will require the use of many tools, including land use and forestry regulations, public and private conservation land acquisition, conservation easements, securing federal and state public funding, private funding, watchdogging state and federal agencies, lobbying for new or better laws, organizing the public, mapping, economic studies, earned media (articles, editorials, letters to the editor), paid media advertisements, social media and more. Students can play a key role in all of these activities and in creating new tools!

Catalyzing Conservation in the 21st Century
James Levitt
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard Forest

This presentation considers that past, present and future of conservation in America and the world. Conservation has evolved from a focus of land protection at a given point, to a focus on the protection of amenities along a line, to the networked conservation of specialized systems of protected lands, to a present day focus on internetworked, interconnected conservation corridors. Such corridors cross parcel boundaries, jurisdictions, disciplines of expertise and economic sectors. Such internetworked corridors, also known as large landscape conservation initiatives, are likely to be key to the future success of global conservation efforts. A new generation of conservation activists and professionals will be needed to create, realize and steward such expansive and ambitious conservation projects.

Alternative Futures Modeling in Maine: Understanding the Past, Envisioning the Future
Robert J. Lilieholm
School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Growing interest in large landscape conservation has highlighted the need for better understanding how development pressures affect landscapes and landscape dynamics. Alternative futures modeling explores past socioeconomic and biophysical drivers of landscape change, and uses this knowledge to develop a range of alternative future development scenarios to better inform decision-makers and land use policies. This talk describes modeling efforts in the 2.5-million-acre Lower Penobscot River Watershed and the 1.9-million-acre Casco Bay Region of Portland. Using Bayesian belief networks to integrate spatial data and expert knowledge, our work has engaged stakeholders across a broad range of interests that includes conservation, agriculture, forestry, and development. Our stakeholder-derived models of land suitability provide quantitative, spatially explicit depictions that inform stakeholders of current land use and suitability, and allow for custom design and evaluation of alternative assumptions regarding population growth and development pressures. Most importantly, our work is designed to identify where compatibilities and conflicts in projected land use are likely to exist in response to differing assumptions. We believe that the proactive nature of this approach is of value to a wide range of stakeholders, allowing individuals, government and business to anticipate and avoid conflict. Future work is exploring ways to offer these models to a broader range of audiences, and explore a wider range of issues – especially future development impacts on stream water quality and the crossing of important ecological and regulatory thresholds.

Students Working in Big, Wild Landscapes
Doug Milek
Round River Conservation Studies

Round River Conservation Studies (RRCS) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to strategies that preserve and restore wild places.  Most of the organization’s conservation projects incorporate a field-based student program into the larger research effort, where a small group of undergraduate students works alongside our ecologists and local community partners.  RRCS signature project is informing a Land Use Plan with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation of British Columbia that has recently protected more than 7 million acres of the Tlingit’s traditional territory.  The Land Use Plan draws heavily on much of the research, analysis, and mapping work undertaken by RRCS staff and students during the last decade.

Bold Ideas for Big Places — The Ecology of Scale in a Warmer World
Gary Tabor
Center for Large Landscape Conservation and University of Montana

Today we stand at the brink of a real and impending conservation bottleneck. Within the next 100 years we will surpass several planetary thresholds relating to climate change, irreversible loss of global biodiversity, and the aspirations of 11 billion people. The next 100 years will test our collective resolve in finding a sustainable path for human livelihoods and nature conservation. Large landscape conservation is a critical solution strategy which can help in addressing this global challenge. And what do we mean by large landscape initiatives? These are efforts which are focused on large areas of recognized conservation value, sensitivity and/or threat and require a broad-based, multi-jurisdictional, multi-sectorial, multipurpose (economic, social and environmental) approach with specific, measurable conservation objectives. There are over 500 large landscape efforts ongoing in North America that have emerged in the last 20 years. It is a global conservation phenomenon. In addition to providing a large landscape primer, this presentation will also examine iconic landscape examples in the Rocky Mountain region of US and Canada with the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative and the Roundtable of the Crown of the Continent, the ecosystem surrounding the first international peace park, Waterton Lakes-Glacier National Parks.

Forests, Fish, and Freshmen:  How can students catalyze large landscape conservation?
Michael Tetreault
The Nature Conservancy, Maine

Every generation has its primary conservation approach.  First, it was wealthy families buying land and creating private preserves.  Then it was the emergence of land trusts to work on behalf of all of us to accelerate and professionalize private land conservation.   Next came community-based conservation.  Now we enter the era of large landscape conservation. Students today need to consider two questions as they seek to catalyze this transformation to large landscape conservation: (1) How can we best achieve large landscape conservation, and what skills does that require, and (2)  How can I best contribute? Twenty five years ago while in college, Mike Tetreault, Lead Director for The Nature Conservancy in the North Eastern United States, was studying abroad in Kenya when he had a transformational experience that informs his work today.  Now Mike is responsible for four large landscape conservation efforts across the Gulf of Maine, Connecticut River Watershed, Northern Appalachian Forest, and Southern New England/Long Island Sound.  Mike believes firmly that the future of conservation rests with current college students.  Using the examples of the Penobscot River Restoration Project and the Gulf of Maine fisheries restoration, Mike Tetreault will share his insights and answers to the two questions above in hopes of sparking a dialogue with tomorrow’s leaders.