Well-connected landscapes are necessary to sustain many of the natural and cultural resources important to the Appalachian region today and into the future. If these large connected areas are to endure and be resilient to impending environmental changes, it will require a collaborative effort involving many organizations and reaching across jurisdictional and political boundaries. Conservation planning - a process of spatially identifying and prioritizing lands and waters important for functioning ecosystems and biodiversity - is well suited to address the many large-scale biodiversity challenges facing the region and lead to conservation outcomes that link pristine and natural lands into an interconnected landscape for plants, animals, and humans.
Researchers at Clemson University identified five conservation design elements covering many critical ecological processes and patterns across the Appalachian LCC geography. These elements include large interconnected regions as well as broad landscapes that connect them. Small areas that are likely to contain larger ecological significance than their size would suggest were also mapped. These elements as well as the target layers used to identify are available within this gallery.