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Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy

The Southeast Conservation Blueprint

The Blueprint is a living, spatial plan that identifies priority areas for a connected network of lands and waters across the Southeast and Caribbean. It's helping more than 300 people from over 130 organizations bring in new funding and inform their conservation decisions.
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 the primary product of SECAS. The Blueprint is more than just a map. It’s a living spatial plan to achieve the SECAS vision of a connected network of lands and waters across the Southeast and Caribbean. More than 300 people from over 130 organizations have used or are using the Blueprint in their work. So far, the Southeast Blueprint has helped bring in more than $80 million in conservation funding to protect and restore over 100,000 acres.

The Blueprint identifies priority areas based on a suite of natural and cultural resource indicators representing terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Across most of the region, a connectivity analysis identifies corridors that link coastal and inland areas and span climate gradients. 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. So far, more than 2,000 people from over 500 different organizations have actively participated in developing the Southeast Blueprint.

Blueprint Version 2022

Southeast Blueprint 2022 was released in October 2022 at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Rather than continuing to stitch together so many different subregional plans, the 2022 Blueprint took massive strides toward regional consistency by using the same methods and indicators across 15 states of the Southeast. To provide more complete coverage of the SECAS geography, it also incorporated two additional input plans: the latest update to the Florida Marine Blueprint for marine areas in Florida and the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Design for inland areas in Puerto Rico.

You can explore and download the data on the Blueprint page of the SECAS Atlas, a free online mapping platform. Here, you can also read more about the methods and underlying datasets used to create Version 2022.

A map depicting key priority areas for achieving the SECAS vision of a connected network of lands and waters. Priority areas are shown in shades of purple and gray. Darkest purple represents highest priority, middle purple high priority, and lightest purple medium priority. Gray represents priority connections between the purple areas.
Southeast Conservation Blueprint Version 2022 identifies priority areas for a connected network of lands and waters across the Southeast and Caribbean.

Blueprint categories

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

Input data

Across 15 states of the Southeast, Version 2022 of the Southeast Blueprint identifies priority areas based on a suite of natural and cultural resource indicators representing terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. A connectivity analysis identifies corridors that link coastal and inland areas and span climate gradients. This portion of the Southeast Blueprint is referred to as the “Base Blueprint”.

To provide more complete coverage of the SECAS geography, the Blueprint incorporates two additional input plans: the Florida Marine Blueprint for marine areas in Florida and the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) for inland areas in Puerto Rico. Florida Marine Blueprint 2.0 is available on the Florida Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA). More information on the Caribbean LCD is available on the Caribbean CPA. The full Caribbean LCD watershed ranking used in the Southeast Blueprint is available in the Southeast Blueprint 2022 Data Download.

Known issues

As a living spatial plan, the Blueprint is always a work in progress. We maintain a list of the problems with the Blueprint that have been identified in the review process so far, which we call “known issues”. These known issues are part of our commitment to transparently documenting the Blueprint’s strengths and weaknesses. They also help us prioritize the most important issues to fix in the next update cycle.

The known issues identified with Southeast Conservation Blueprint 2022 are captured on the known issues page and in the Southeast Blueprint 2022 Development Process final report.

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! You can also explore the Online Guide to using the Southeast Blueprint, which will walk you through how to use it on your own.

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 staff page to contact a user support team member.

Who’s using the Blueprint

Two conservationists inspect high-value areas identified as corridors.
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 the over 150 Blueprint uses completed so far, with more than 60 still in progress! For more in-depth examples of how the Blueprint is being used, check out the SECAS in Action story map. You can also see a detailed list of the organizations using the Blueprint.

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 annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).

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.

Version 3.0 of the Southeast Blueprint was first introduced at the October 2018 SEAFWA annual conference, and officially released in February 2019. 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 progress on Blueprint improvements. Blueprint 3.0 added full coverage of Texas, integrated threat layers covering the full Southeast, and a hubs and corridors layer covering part of the region.

Version 4.0 of the Southeast Blueprint was released in October 2019 at the SEAFWA annual conference. Improvements over the previous version included: corrected overprioritization in Texas, Oklahoma, and the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia; improved priorities in the Lower Mississippi Valley, Louisiana marshes, and the Southern Appalachians; updated inputs from Florida and the Middle South subregion; expanded marine coverage to include state and federal waters around Florida; and expanded hubs and corridors that now cover all of Florida.

Southeast Blueprint 2020 was released in October 2020 at the virtual SEAFWA annual conference. Significant improvements over the previous versions included: finer resolution and a more connected network of priorities in the inland South Atlantic subregion; updated data and a more consistent approach to cross-state prioritization in the Middle Southeast subregion; and better integration in areas of overlap between the South Atlantic Blueprint, Florida Blueprint, and Nature’s Network design.

Southeast Blueprint 2021 was released in November 2021 following the virtual SEAFWA annual conference. Significant improvements over the previous versions included: updated and improved indicators, better incorporation of equity, deep-sea coral, fire, and important grasslands, and multiple connectivity improvements in the South Atlantic subregion, as well as correcting a scoring issue in the Middle Southeast subregion.

Southeast Blueprint 2022 was released in October 2022 at the SEAFWA annual conference. Rather than continuing to stitch together so many different subregional plans, the 2022 Blueprint took massive strides toward regional consistency by using the same methods and indicators across 15 states of the Southeast. To provide more complete coverage of the SECAS geography, it also incorporated two additional input plans: the latest update to the Florida Marine Blueprint for marine areas in Florida and the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Design for inland areas in Puerto Rico.