The conservation nonprofit NatureServe today announced the release of Landscope Chesapeake (www.landscope.org/chesapeake), a tool developed with the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey to help partners focus land conservation efforts. By engaging dozens of state agencies and non-governmental organizations from across the watershed, the partners will extend and enrich the platform provided by LandScope America (http://www.landscope.org), creating a shared system by which practitioners and citizens can guide and measure progress toward collaborative land protection and public access goals across the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The partners have launched a first release of LandScope Chesapeake, initially focused on maps, articles, and photos about conservation priorities and protected areas in the Bay watershed. The team will be working with lead partners in each of the six Bay states to expand and improve the spatial, editorial, and multimedia coverage in each jurisdiction.
"We need science-based tools to inform collaborative conservation," said Mary Klein, president and CEO of NatureServe, "but we also need ways to inspire citizens to reconnect with our shared natural and cultural heritage. LandScope Chesapeake provides an important, model for convening public and private stakeholders from across the Bay watershed around a shared mission."
LandScope Chesapeake fulfills a goal identified by a broad group of public and private organizations for a publicly accessible, watershed-wide land conservation priority system. Developing the system to support collaboration and citizen engagement in conservation became a priority action for implementing the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order. Signed in 2009, Executive Order 13508 renewed the Federal government's commitment to restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and led to a formal strategy for achieving numerous conservation and restoration goals by 2025.
LandScope Chesapeake is the first major regionally focused mapping tool to extend the LandScope America platform. The map viewer at the heart of the project enables conservation practitioners and policy-makers from non-profits, land trusts, state and local agencies, and foundations to see quickly how and where different conservation values align and overlap, making it easier for them prioritize places with the highest conservation value and direct resources to those places.
LandScope Chesapeake will facilitate public-private partnerships within the watershed and monitor progress toward the 2025 goals. Enhancements planned for release in the coming months include:
LandScope Chesapeake's first release debuted recently at a meeting of representatives of more than 30 public agencies and private organizations focused on collaborative large landscape conservation across the Bay watershed. "Participants were enthusiastic, viewing LandScope Chesapeake as serving a shared need for a tool that facilitates collaboration, helps organizations and agencies leverage each other's resources and engages more people in thinking about important places," said John Maounis, Superintendent of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office.
Initially developed by NatureServe and the National Geographic Society, LandScope America is a conservation guide that offers easy public access users to authoritative maps and compelling place-based narratives, photography, and data-rich maps.
LandScope Chesapeake leverages several million dollars of previous grants by Carl Knobloch, Jr.'s West Hill Foundation for Nature, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ExxonMobil, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Wild Resources Conservation Program, the Hershey Company, and the National Parks Conservation Association. In addition to its usefulness to practitioners and policy-makers, LandScope serves as an educational resource that improves landowners' and citizens' understanding of how local land protection contributes to broader conservation efforts.
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