Initial implementation of the State Wildlife Action Plans: Conservation impacts, challenges and enabling mechanisms

TitleInitial implementation of the State Wildlife Action Plans: Conservation impacts, challenges and enabling mechanisms
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsDavis, F, Griffith, B, Henke, S, Maguire, L, Meretsky, V, Scott, MJ, Goble, D, Vaughn, J, Yaffee, S, Stoms, D
Keywordsstate wildlife action plans conservation planning public participation adaptive management monitoring prioritiy conservation areas species of greatest conservation need threats habitat conservation

In Fall 2007 we conducted a graduate seminar distributed across eight universities to analyze state wildlife action plans, or Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies" (CWCS) and their initial implementation. For most states, the CWCS represents the first statewide synthesis of information on wildlife species, habitats, threats, conservation priorities and opportunities. Differences in approach, information quality, habitat classification and threat analysis make it impossible to amalgamate state plans to gain consistent regional or national views of conservation needs and priorities. Such views could be attained in the next planning cycle with a modest increase in standardization of information and multi-state planning processes such as those that have already commenced in some regions. Inadequate funding and a shortage of personnel severely limit the ability of state wildlife agencies to achieve the conservation goal of the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program. Still, many states have creatively leveraged limited resources, using the planning process, published strategies, and SWG funds to strengthen partnerships and align conservation priorities with other agencies and NGOs, build political support for non-game and habitat-based conservation, and attract new public and private conservation funding. The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in particular have been key partners in planning and implementation in many states. The Doris Duke Conservation Fund has energized the implementation process and provided much-needed additional funding. Habitat loss to development is identified as a leading threat to wildlife in nearly all plans, but most states have had limited success engaging local governments or private land owners in wildlife action planning or implementation. Some states are undertaking innovative efforts to engage county and local governments or associations of county planners that may serve as models for other states. Some states, especially those states with little public land, have expanded incentive programs to engage private landowners. Diverse constituencies look to the state wildlife agencies for leadership in addressing urgent conservation needs. Unless SWG or related funding is increased significantly, state wildlife agencies will maximize their impact in non-game biodiversity conservation by exploiting overlap in game and non-game conservation and by catalyzing and coordinating conservation investments made by other organizations. To more effectively play this role, state programs would benefit from concerted training and capacity-building in areas such as data integration, analysis and synthesis, conservation effectiveness monitoring, spatial planning support systems, grant writing, education and outreach. Products from this project, including 3-6 page summaries of implementation in the 50 states and District of Columbia, are available via a project website at