Conservation Planning Tools Assessment

A Report on Planners' Involvement with Conservation Planning and an Assessment of the Tools Available for Conservation Planning Efforts

The 2011 Conservation Planning Tools Assessment was created to assess and better understand planners' use of and needs for conservation planning tools. The assessment was created through a partnership between APA and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

APA acknowledges the USDA Forest Service for providing the funding for this assessment. In particular, APA wishes to thank our primary Forest Service contact for this project, Susan Stein. Clemson University also served on the project providing expertise in conservation planning tools and GIS applications. From Clemson, APA wishes to acknowledge Rob Baldwin, a conservation biologist, and Don Lipscomb, a GIS specialist. The survey was conducted by APA Senior Outreach Associate Ryan Scherzinger.

Case Study

Applying Conservation Planning Tools:
Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Plan

Applying Conservation Planning Tools: Pikes Peak Regional Transportation PlanAs a follow up to the 2011 Conservation Planning Tools Assessment, APA partnered with NatureServe and the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) to share a case study that demonstrates the use of multiple GIS-based tools within a conservation planning project. The case study illustrates how a collection of software tools formed a decision support toolkit in conjunction with the development of PPACG’s long range transportation planning effort called the 2035 Moving Forward Update. The study also describes the steps taken to create an advance mitigation plan to aid implementation of the 2035 plan. The advance mitigation plan identifies locations that can provide offsite mitigation to impacts that could not be avoided in the 25-year plan.

The study is designed to introduce planners to the capabilities of current tools and spark creative insights into how GIS-based tools might benefit other planning projects that strive to incorporate conservation principles. The results from the 2011 assessment suggested that most planners don’t have the capacity to gain expertise in the evolving suite of rapidly emerging tools. There are many opportunities for planners to collaborate with those who can supply that expertise, however. By no means do GIS-based tools solve the inherently human dimensions of planning (funding, capacity, culture, politics, etc.), but they do offer greater efficiency in facilitation and the variety of collaborations needed throughout the planning process. The tools work to accumulate the input and analyses of multiple experts and stakeholders and decipher the alternate scenarios and potential outcomes generated by each successive new round of information.

While this particular case study integrates conservation into land use and transportation planning, one can see the range of possibilities. PPACG was enabled the ability to navigate myriad scenarios and conduct an informed decision-making process with stakeholders.

Applying Conservation Planning Tools: Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Plan (pdf)

Assessment Report Organization

Click on the links below to read the detailed assessment report.