Landscape challenges like climate change, habitat fragmentation, the spread of disease and exotic species and sea level rise don’t conform to boundaries on a map. While these challenges cut across political and jurisdictional lines, prior to 2011 conservation communities did not have a consistent cross-boundary, cross-organization plan for how to respond.
Self-directed Landscape Conservation Cooperatives were a new and untested concept in 2011. Group Solutions was engaged to design and facilitate a strategic planning process for the South Atlantic LCC. This process faced a number of challenges. While there was a tradition of collaboration in the Southeast, working across borders and organizations at this scale was untested. Serious trust issues needed to be addressed before a shared vision, an effective governance structure and action priorities could be established.
Group Solutions provided baseline scoping, a governance framework and facilitation for the charter meeting of a Steering Committee that included executives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, State Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the Department of Defense, EPA, U.S. Geological Survey, Conservation groups and private landowners. The speed, inclusiveness and strong consensus developed by this process was recognized with an award from U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution in 2012.
The Steering Committee identified development of a conservation blueprint that could function at a bigger scope and scale across multiple states, ecosystems, and species as their top shared priority. They agreed to collaborate toward development of a living spatial plan to conserve natural and cultural resources with shared regional conservation priorities.
This process was unique because the blueprint was developed by the cooperative, for the cooperative—not for any single organization.
Additionally, Group Solutions has worked, via the U.S. Institute for Enviornmental Conflict Resolution on planning processes for the Appalachian and Peninsular Florida LCCs.