Focal Landscapes Initiative: Areas Identified and Collaborations Beginning

At our recent Management Board meeting, state representatives presented on and identified focal landscapes where the AMJV partnership can provide the bird context for conservation and enhance capacity to achieve success. These focal landscapes within the Appalachians contain a large mix of public and private lands, have a tremendous amount of partner synergy taking place, and are vital to AMJV priority bird species. The goal of the initiative is to enhance the diversity of forest structure and species in the long term while integrating forest restoration efforts with bird conservation objectives.

Areas currently identified by local partners include:

  • Southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania within the Allegheny Plateau;
  • East-central West Virginia and the Highlands of western Virginia; and
  • Ohio in and around Wayne National Forest

Dialogue is underway among partners within North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, with the goal of identifying their own focal landscapes in the coming months.

In West Virginia, partners working with AMJV staff are developing a conservation strategy for that Focal Landscape that targets priority bird species and incorporates best management practices. The Management Board said it would be helpful to share with partners the process for developing the West Virginia focal landscape and activities taking place so far to the wider community. Staff will schedule a webinar that highlights key steps around identifying the West Virginia focal landscape that may be used as a model for other landscapes.

In addition, Board members determined that JV staff and the partnership at large should work together to coordinate partner proposals to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Central Appalachian Habitat Stewardship Program. The Program will invest in on-the-ground restoration and planning to restore the quality of forest and freshwater habitats in the Central Appalachian-Allegheny Plateau landscape, including the Appalachian regions of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. The program will award up to $1.3 million in the first year, with a specific focus on forest conservation and management to improve age and structural diversity and demonstrate improved forest conditions for birds and other wildlife, especially Golden-winged and Prairie Warbler, American Woodcock, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Cerulean Warbler. The Program provides a tremendous opportunity to support conservation activities within AMJV focal landscapes.

Finally, presentations were given on the need to revise the AMJV Implementation Plan as well as an update of the partnership’s communication and engagement strategy. Staff will work on an Implementation Plan outline that highlights overarching inspirational vision and then key areas of AMJV focus (science, conservation delivery, partnerships, engagement) to present at the Fall Management Board meeting. Staff will also finalize the communication and engagement strategy based on Board Members input and present back to Board for final approval.

The Fall Management Board meeting will take place October 24-25 in Blacksburg, VA.