Building an Atlas of Landscape Initiatives in the Northeast Megaregion

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 834 data model.png Efforts to protect water, habitat and other natural resources are often divorced from regional and local land use decision making and infrastructure investment.   Planners and conservation advocates are meeting this challenge by working across political jurisdictions to establish landscape conservation initiatives that protect watersheds, ecosystems and other landscape-scale processes by identifying and responding to the broader threats of regional land use and infrastructure investment decisions.
This is especially true across the eleven megaregions that are the locus of much of the nation's growth and development, where there are hundreds of locally driven initiatives that are bringing together local, state, and federal partners.   With support from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, America 2050 and Regional Plan Association are helping landscape conservation initiatives succeed in implementing their goals in one of these: the 13-state Northeast Megaregion.
Our first step is to inventory landscape conservation initiatives and assess how these diverse efforts relate to habitat protection, other natural resource goals, and infrastructure and land use plans.  We are using GIS to map and understand the spatial relationships between landscape conservation initiatives, important natural resources, and urban growth and infrastructure investment. The materials produced in this process form a Northeastern Landscapes Initiatives Atlas.
The Atlas will contain three types of data:
  1. Landscape Initiatives: The location of each initiative is referenced to its profile, allowing analysis between the map data and other attributes, for example a comparison of an initiative's landscape coverage with the number of member organizations. Conservation
  2. Context: The natural and cultural characteristics of the landscapes is drawn from existing sources and compiled into a series of composite layers: habitat, water resources, agriculture and forestry, recreational resources, and stewardship.
  3. Development Context: an accounting of current and potential challenges to the initiatives, broken down into transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, water infrastructure and urban growth. This information will be complied from existing data sources, apart from urban growth estimates from a build out model.
The draft inventory and initial atlas products will be made public on this site this September and a conference is planned for winter 2011.  For more information contact Robert Pirani at rob@rpa.org.