Department of Interior releases report on Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Interior created Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) to develop resource management strategies across jurisdictions and sectors for fish, wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources that extend beyond political boundaries. There are 22 LCCs in the United States, including the Pacific and Caribbean islands, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. Each LCC is tasked with creating a collaborative framework to develop shared conservation priorities and identify applied research needs across federal agencies, state agencies, tribes, private landholders, and other stakeholders working on conservation efforts within its region.

The Cooperatives are coordinated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. More information about LCCs is available at http://lccnetwork.org/.

In 2014, at the request of Congress, the National Research Council convened a committee to evaluate the LCCs. Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report presenting findings of the committee. In summarizing those findings, the Academies state that “individual LCCs have generated some early accomplishments, such as identifying partners, establishing governance structures and steering committees, and developing shared conservation and research priorities for use by all partners.”

They also state that “it is too soon to expect the network as a whole to have made measurable improvements to managing fish, bird, and other wildlife populations and their habitats. In addition, the LCC network needs to improve its evaluation process to better capture the contributions made by all partners toward common objectives and to better measure and demonstrate benefits to its partners.”

NRC further indicates that “LCCs are unique in that they are designed to address landscape needs at a national level for all natural and cultural resources as well as to bridge conservation research and management. Similar federal programs are more narrowly focused and the LCCs generally seek to coordinate with other programs where their interests overlap. Moving forward, the LCC network needs to strengthen coordination with other programs that have a strong interest in landscape approaches to conservation to avoid duplicative efforts and limit demands on state agency and other partners that participate in multiple programs.”

The full report on LCCs is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/21829/a-review-of-the-landscape-conservation-cooperatives.