southeast conservation adaptation strategy fall 2015 the southeast conservation adaptation strategy

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Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy

Fall 2015 Briefing

PHOTO & MAP CREDITS

Credits on Cover, clockwise from top left (courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons unless otherwise noted):

Storm on the Gulf of Mexico, Longboat Key, FL - David Beyer; Dam proposed for removal from

the Roaring River in Tennessee - Chris Simpson, TWRA; Freezing rain on a tree bud, December

2013, Falls Church, VA - Lance Cheung, USDA; Hurricane Irene over Puerto Rico, August 2011

- NASAs Earth Observatory; Dead and dying hemlock trees suffering from hemlock woolly

adelgid infestation, Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest, GA - ChattOconeeNF; Monarch

butterfly, emblematic of complex issues affecting native pollinators and honeybees - USFWS;

South Carolina National Guard assisting during flooding, October 2015, Charleston, SC -

National Guard; Business-as-usual urbanization scenario for the Southeast US - Adam J.

Terando et al., Plos One July 23, 2014; center: Blanco River during the big drought of 2011,

Texas - Earl McGehee

SECAS wordle in the report created using wordle.net, from the manuscript entitled The Southeastern Conservation Adaptation Strategy: A Conservation Landscape for the Future,

presented by Greg Wathen, et al. (2013).

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1

The trends for growth and economic development predicted in recent assessments show that the Southeasts population grew at a rate roughly40 percent faster than any other region over the past six decades. Cities are getting bigger; rural communities are getting smaller. These are just some of the challenges we are seeing on the landscape. Between now and 2060, more than half the nations population growth and an estimated 65 percent of its economic growth will occur in 10 mega-regions across the country three are in the Southeast Region.

At least 65 percent of the nations economic growth will be packed into those mega-regions as well. The gross regional product for the Piedmont mega-region alone is $1.1 trillion and that number is already outdated for a region that snakes from north of Nashville south to Birmingham, Alabama; over to Atlanta, Georgia; then dog-legs northeast through Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and finally to the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.In that same time frame, we are likely to lose an amount of land to development the size of the State of South Carolina. Globally, demand for food will grow by 35 percent. Demand for energy will grow by 50 percent. Demandfor water will grow by 40 percent. Most people

will have little contact with nature and the outdoors. All thesepressures on conservationists, business owners, private landowners, policymakers, and farmers affect all of us. Decisions are being made to address population growth, increasing urbanization, traffic congestion, struggling educational systems, increasing global competition, and wildlife conservation needs.In addition, thereis farmland conversion, ecosystem degradation, declining air quality, droughts, and competition for water resources as a result of all that pressure.

The challenges are clear, and the opportunities within those challenges are even clearer.

From SLEUTH urban growth projections, partially funded by LCCs

Why an Adaptation Strategy for the Southeast?

2

The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) is an ambitious effort to harness the power of collaboration and leverage scientific, technical, and financial resources to proactively pursue a more resilient landscape to sustain fish and wildlife. The goal of SECAS is to define and realize an ecologically connected network of landscapes and seascapes in the Southeast that represents a collective conservation vision that will sustain fish and wildlife through the 21st century. An adaptation strategy recognizes that the dynamic nature of landscape change across the Southeast demands that we deliver conservation action strategically based on past experiences and considering future projections more comprehensively. Any vision of the future in the Southeast will be imperfect, but working collaboratively now and taking action with deliberate consideration of alternative futures will expedite learning in the face of uncertainty. There is sufficient information about future change to know that unplanned degradation of current conservation landscapes will not be adequate to sustain fish and wildlife for the rest of the 21st century. Where are the priority landscapes of the future? Where should conservation invest capital today that will ensure a more sustainable and resilient future? Are the fish and wildlife communities talking to all the people who are influencing decisions that will impact these lands by 2060? What steps can be taken to connect with the right people to give fish and wildlife the best chances for tomorrow? These are some of the

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