Why is the Cooperative using Landscape Conservation Design?

Landscape conservation design is a partner-driven approach to achieve a sustainable, resilient socio-ecological landscape. It is an iterative, collaborative, and holistic process resulting in strategic and spatial products that provide information, analytical tools, maps, and strategies to achieve landscape goals collectively held among partners. (LCC Network Definition 26 Aug 2016)


The goal of the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CLCC) is to “develop and implement coordinated, efficient, and effective landscape-scale conservation design to conserve, restore and sustain ecological and cultural resources and services as well as human well-being in the Caribbean…” (CLCC 2015).  Toward that goal, landscape conservation design is the most appropriate tool at hand to:

  • Identify common, or shared objectives
  • Prioritize regions actions toward shared goals
  • Align partner programslandscapephoto_lcd_webpage_noborder
  • Reduce independent and uncoordinated conservation efforts
  • Increase partner awareness and collective learning
  • Recommend best spatially-explicit and shared implementation strategies
  • Focus resource allocations
  • Develop better interagency and inter-organization policies and partnerships
  • Develop tools to jointly fund conservation and shared science initiatives
  • Identify shared science and information needs


Campellone et al. (in review) define landscape conservation design (LCD) as “a stakeholder-driven, participatory process that integrates  societal values and cross jurisdiction, multisector interests with the best-available interdisciplinary science and traditional knowledge to assess spatial and temporal patterns, vulnerabilities, risks, and opportunities for landscape elements valued by stakeholders.  The process results in a set of spatially explicit products and multi-objective adaptation strategies that promote social-ecological systems that are resilient and sustainable, for current and future generations.”


The Caribbean LCC officially began its’ efforts toward LCD in November 2014 (figure 1).   Significant steps forward came the following June 2015 when the Steering Committee framed the context and desired outcomes (i.e. fundamental objectives) of LCD.  The desired outcomes include maximizing human well-being, ecological integrity, and preservation of cultural and historical resources (CLCC 2015).  Subsequently, through refining sub-objectives the Steering Committee prescribed a ‘ridge to reef’ (Stock et al. 2011, Rude et al. 2016) watershed-based approach to landscape-scale conservation acknowledging the islands close ties to water that unite forested uplands, human society, and our marine resources.  The Steering Committee also made the practical acknowledgement that resources are limited.  To make a significant difference while working towards a ‘proof of concept’ in support of collaborative land/sea scape conservation, our partnership has decided to focus initial efforts within discrete pilot watersheds.  Though the ultimate goal remains the development of a single Caribbean-wide LCD it makes the most sense to develop it through local, independent, and spatially-specific component units that are well coordinated and highly compatible around common objectives and comparable methodologies.  Identification of these component units, or pilot LCD areas will be based on island-wide watershed prioritizations.  Initially we are seeking to identify a pilot watershed on Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Croix along with additional complementary LCDs being developed by Conservation Action Teams for the network of offshore cays (PR, USVI, and BVI), for dunes (in PR), and wetlands (PR).  Although each will be developed independently they will be united through their shared goals, objectives, and methodologies.


Our LCD is not to be a prescriptive plan, rather our LCD is intended as a decision support tool to provide (1) a land/seascape scale context for collaborative conservation, (2) a platform to align partner policies and actions, (3) a suite of indicators and targets to assess progress and success of our collaborative conservation endeavors, and (4) a set of spatially-explicit strategies to reach our collective conservation goals.  The long-term scope of our LCD is aimed at creating a desirable future condition 50-60 years out (2060-2075), but scaled to five-to ten-year planning horizon (CLCC 2015).  The LCD will not be static and will never be ‘complete’. It’s a living decision tool and will be in constant review and revision as new science, strategies, results from conservation actions, and opportunities arise as these will change the decision contexts and/or the social-ecological landscape.


Figure 2. The CASS framework for LCD.

Figure 2. The CASS framework for LCD.

The Caribbean LCD is presently being guided by two complementary conceptual approaches.  The main framework is the CASS platform (Campellone et al. in review), CASS is an acronym that captures the four primary attributes of the platform: convening, assessment, spatial design, and strategy development (Figure 2).  The four attributes are easily viewed chronologically as phases, though in practice this doesn’t need to be the case and in fact, it is often necessary to revisit each attribute throughout the process and to frequently utilize existing science and plans.  For example the Cooperative might ‘adopt’ portions of a partners pre-existing strategy and/or spatial prioritization and we convene partners around that plan and in all likelihood we will utilize pre-existing assessments and related strategies more often than not.





The second process-oriented framework the Cooperative agreed to utilize is structured decision-making (SDM, Figure 3) (Gregory and Keeney 2002, Keeney 2004) and is outlined in greater detail in CLCC (2015).  SDM has been used extensively to address conservation related issues (Wilson and McDaniels 2007, Martin et al. 2009, Davies et al. 2013, Thorne et al. 2015), but its use for large landscape conservation is both new and relatively novel.  One highly successful landscape scale application has been in the Mississippi River basin to address Gulf hypoxia and align partner efforts (7 Mississippi Basin LCCs 2015).  Integrating SDM into the CASS framework has numerous benefits including:


  • Promotes a data-driven process around shared goals of multiple partners
  • Reduces conflict by maximizing transparency
  • Allows participants to understand the values behind decisions
  • Balances multiple objectives and value-based criteria
  • Promotes collective learning and trust-building
  • Supports and facilitates joint decision-making



Figure 3. Structured decision-making wheel depicting the PrOACT cycle to transparent and data supported decision-making.

Figure 3. Structured decision-making wheel depicting the PrOACT cycle to transparent and data supported decision-making.

Literature Cited

Campellone, R.M., K.M. Chouinard, N.A. Fisichelli, J.A. Gallo, J.R. Lujan, R. McCormick, T. Miewald, B.A.Murry, and D.J. Pierce.  In review.  The iCAPP framework for landscape conservation design.  Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning.

Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CLCC) Deriving Shared Objectives Workshop: Summary of proceedings and preliminary outputs of a decision analysis process. 2015.  Eds. Murry, B., A. Romito, M. Eaton, P. Freeman, and W.I. Crespo-Acevedo.  Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Río Piedras, PR. 17 pp.

Davies, A.L., R. Brycce, and S.M. Redpath.  2013.  Use of multicriteria decision analysis to address conservation conflicts.  Conservation Biology 27: 936-944.

Gregory, R.S. and R.L. Keeney.  2002.  Making smarter environmental management decisions.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association.  38: 1601-1612.

Keeney, R.L.  2004.  Making better decision makers.  Decision Analysis 1: 193-204.

7 Mississippi river LCCs.  2015.  Multi-LCC Mississippi River basin / Gulf hypoxia initiative work groups, tools design and research forum invitation updated fall 2015.  Multi-LCC Network Project #2013-17.  https://lccnetwork.org/sites/default/files/Resources/memphis_report.pdf

Martin, J., M.C. Runge, J.D. Nichols, B.C. Lubow, and W.L. Kendall.  2009.  Structure decision making as a conceptual framework to identify thresholds for conservation and management.  Ecological Applications 19: 1079-1090.

Thorne, K.M., B.J. Mattsson, J. Takekawa, J. Cummings, D. Crouse, G. Block, V. Bloom, M. Gerhart, S. Goldbeck, B. Huning, C. Sloop, M. Stewart, K. Taylor, and L. Valoppi.  2015.  Collaborative decision-analytic framework to maximize resilience of tidal marshes to climate change.  Ecology and Society 20 (1):30.

Wilson, C. and T. McDaniels.  2007.  Structured decision-making to link climate change and sustainable development.  Climate Policy 7 (2007): 353-370.


Methods and Results of the Puerto Rico LCD Pilot Area Selection Process

Landscape Conservation Design Pilot Watersheds Main Page