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Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy

The Southeast Conservation Blueprint

The SECAS goal: a 10% or greater improvement in the health, function, and connectivity of southeastern ecosystems by 2060.

A group of conservation professionals investigating a map
Conservation professionals review a draft of the Conservation Blueprint in the South Atlantic subregion.

The Southeast Conservation Blueprint is more than just a map. It’s a living, spatial plan that identifies important areas for conservation and restoration across the Southeast and Caribbean. Just as a construction blueprint serves as a plan for achieving an architect’s design for a building, the Conservation Blueprint serves as a plan for achieving the SECAS goal. More than 130 people from over 50 organizations have used or are using the Blueprint in their work. In the South Atlantic subregion alone, the Blueprint has helped inform more than $20 million in conservation funding — 99% of which has supported on-the-ground conservation action.

By providing regional context for local decisions, the Blueprint helps organizations with different goals find common ground — opportunities to align their efforts to protect fish and wildlife habitat, improve quality of life for people, safeguard life and property, and develop strong economies. As the Blueprint guides decisions and brings in new resources to benefit our communities, our livelihoods, and our natural and cultural heritage, it is shaping a more sustainable future for our region.

More than 1,700 people from 500 different organizations have actively participated in developing the Southeast Blueprint so far. The Blueprint stitches together smaller subregional plans into one consistent map, incorporating the best available information about the current condition of key species and habitats, as well as future threats. Because the Blueprint is a living plan, it will evolve over time, driven by improvements to the underlying science, our growing understanding of on-the-ground conditions, and input from new partners.

Draft Blueprint Version 3.0

Draft Southeast Blueprint 3.0 was released in November 2017. Significant improvements over Version 1.0 include improved consistency across LCC boundaries, improved consistency in climate change response, and improved integration beyond the Southeast. You can explore and download the Blueprint data on the Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA), a free online mapping platform. There, you can also read more the underlying datasets and methods.

A map depicting key areas to fulfill the goal of SECAS.  Map includes protected areas as well as high and medium ranked areas from the blueprint.
Draft Southeast Blueprint Version 3.0 identifies high value areas for conservation and restoration across the Southeast and Caribbean.

Blueprint categories

High conservation value: These areas are the most important for ecosystem health, function, and connectivity.
Medium conservation value: This category captures areas that might require more restoration, but are important for buffering high value areas and maintaining connectivity.

A few things to keep in mind as you explore the Blueprint

Input data

Draft Version 3.0 of the Southeast Blueprint integrates the following plans:

Contact Blueprint staff

Do you have a question about the Blueprint? Would you like help using the Blueprint to support a proposal or inform a decision? Staff across the Southeast are here to support you!

The Blueprint is also revised based on input from people like you. So if you have a suggestion on how to improve the Blueprint, let us know!

To get help or provide feedback, visit the contact page to reach out to the staff person working in your state.

Who’s using the Blueprint

Two conservationists insepct high-value areas identified as coordiors.
During a joint meeting of the NC Sandhills Conservation Partnership, Greater Uwharrie Conservation Partnership, and NC Longleaf Coalition, members of a connectivity breakout group use the Blueprint to identify potential corridors to connect longleaf priority areas in the Uwharries and Sandhills.

Specific examples of how the Blueprint has been used include:

These are just a few of almost 50 Blueprint uses completed so far, with about 60 more still in progress! For more in-depth examples of how the Blueprint is being used, check out the SECAS in Action story map.

Individuals from nearly 60 different organizations have used, or are in the process of using the Blueprint, including:

A pie chart showing usage of the blueprint: Nonprofit: 29%, Partnership: 22%, Federal: 13%, State: 14%, Academic: 10%, Local: 5%, Private: 7%
Number of unique organizations using the Blueprint by sector, as of September 2018.

8 state agencies

3 local land trusts

8 federal agencies

3 local governments and planning organizations

13 nonprofits

13 conservation partnerships

4 private businesses

5 universities and academic organizations

The history of the Blueprint

A conference room full of conservationists discussing the progress of the SECAS effort
Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, speaks about the history and importance of SECAS alongside Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This SECAS symposium took place at the 2016 SEAFWA annual meeting.

In the fall of 2013, SECAS leadership set a goal of developing a first generation Southeast Blueprint for landscape-scale conservation by the fall of 2016. Many different conservation planning efforts were already underway, but most eco-regional plans only covered parts of states, while state-specific plans stopped at the state line. The results of all this parallel planning did not yet add up to an integrated regional strategy.

Three years later, Version 1.0 of the Southeast Blueprint was released in December 2016. Development of this first Blueprint relied heavily on Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) partnerships across the Southeast and Caribbean. This plan provided the first ever integration of spatial plans developed through the South Atlantic, Appalachian, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks, Gulf Coast Prairie, North Atlantic, and Caribbean LCCs.

Version 2.0 of the Southeast Blueprint was released in November 2017. This plan incorporated the improved subregional Blueprints from several LCCs and established priority connections with western states through the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool. Significant improvements over Version 1.0 included improved consistency across LCC boundaries, improved consistency in climate change response, and improved integration beyond the Southeast.

Draft Version 3.0 of the Southeast Blueprint was released in October 2018. Its development occurred during a time of transition for the LCC Network where the structure and function of some LCCs was changing. Despite these changes, the capacity and commitment to continue to support Blueprint users and improve the Southeast Blueprint remains strong, evidenced by the many examples of Blueprint implementation, as well as recent progress on spatial coverage, connectivity, and threats. It is expected to be finalized after the SEAFWA annual meeting.

The next version of the Southeast Blueprint is expected in Fall 2019. It will continue the ongoing evolution toward better integration across the various Blueprint inputs and regular updates based on the best available information.