The second week of January brought snow for many, but for the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks and Gulf Coast Prairie LCCs the week brought a gold rush of some of the brightest minds in geospatial conservation convening on Ridgeland, MS. The meeting held at the Mississippi Crafts Center was attended by 43 geospatial and conservation scientists, representing 5 state agencies, 4 Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, 3 federal agencies, 2 universities and 2 different bird conservation initiatives within the GCP and GCPO LCC geographies. There were also staff from 5 LCCs present, including attendees from the Caribbean, Desert, and Peninsular Florida LCCs in addition to several staff from the GCP and GCPO.
Objectives of the meeting were to facilitate communication across geospatial scientists within the partnerships, identify common geospatial data needs among the LCCs and partners, identify a path forward with integration of land cover data, and discuss increasing effectiveness of science delivery and communication.
The initial meeting session provided LCC partners an overview of the geospatial elements and science needs of the GCPO and GCP LCCs as we move forward on landscape conservation design efforts. We also introduced the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy as a means to coalesce individual LCC conservation design efforts into a unified strategy aimed at supporting sustainability of natural and cultural resources in the Southeast into the future. We then spent the afternoon of the first day hearing from partners in the geospatial community on projects underway in their agencies/organizations to address science needs and highlighting geospatial data gaps that need to be addressed.
Presentations focused primarily on terrestrial geospatial needs and were provided by the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas; the Lower Mississippi Valley, East Gulf Coastal Plain, Central Hardwoods, and Gulf Coast Joint Ventures; the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and Ducks Unlimited; and regional and national perspectives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey. It was astounding how many partner organizations experienced similar geospatial data gaps across the LCC geographies. Common geospatial data needs centered primarily on differentiation of grassland types, a common theme brought up by many attendees across the partnerships. Other common themes included updated land cover, improvements to National Wetlands Inventory Data, comprehensive Lidar coverage, data quality standards, climate projection models, updated leaf-off imagery, and integration of State Wildlife Action Plan geospatial components.
The second day brought a long session highlighting state and regional land cover projects from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership presenting on the Texas and Oklahoma Ecological Systems mapping programs, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission presenting on the Florida Cooperative Land Cover program, the GCPO LCC update to Southeast GAP, and an overview of the national LANDFIRE mapping program and upcoming LANDFIRE/GAP collaborative national re-map. Discussions focused on integrating across state, regional, and national land cover products and addressing how to evaluate changing landscapes over time. Insights from all the highly experienced presenters in this session were excellent. We then wrapped up the meeting with a long discussion about communications and science delivery, which centered primarily on the LCC Conservation Planning Atlases and outreach to potential user groups.
One immediate outcome from this discussion is the addition of a new section to the GCPO LCC website and the Geomatics Working Group: CPA Highlights, which will regularly feature the newest datasets added to the CPA and the partners who have developed them. Look for the highlights to be featured prominently in future newsletters, for easy reference.
No worries if you happened to miss the meeting – we’ve provided detailed notes on partner presentations and fruitful discussions in addition to pdf’s of all presentations on the GCPO Geomatics Working Group page (http://gcpolcc.org/group-hub/gcpolccgeomaticsworkinggroup/geomatics-pages/joint-gcp-gcpo-lcc-geospatial-science-meeting-notes-and-presentat).