Strategic Habitat Conservation - High Definition Conservation
What is SHC, how will it make the Service a more effective agency for the conservation of the nation’s trust resources, and what does it mean for Service employees?
SHC is a structured, science-driven approach for making efficient, transparent decisions about where and how to expend Service resources for species, or groups of species, that are limited by the amount or quality of habitat. It is an adaptive management framework integrating planning, design, delivery and evaluation. Specifically, SHC requires:
- Explicit and measurable population objectives for target species;
- A landscape scale appropriate for the objective(s), encompassing a relatively homogenous biological community and set of management challenges (e.g., an ecoregion);
- Identification of the habitat factor(s) most limiting to target species populations;
- Scientific information, usually organized as simple models; and
- Commitment to monitoring and research to support evaluation.
SHC will improve our effectiveness by:
- Enabling estimations of how much habitat is “enough” to attain population objectives;
- Producing tools that target management to specific sites on the landscape; and
- Helping us to learn, by linking past, current and future management actions through monitoring and research that tests our knowledge and assumptions.
Adaptive management has become a feature of habitat management on many National Wildlife Refuges and elsewhere. SHC compliments and improves these practices by placing them in a larger, range-wide context for target species, ensuring that site-scale efforts collectively support Service mission accomplishment.
SHC changes the Service business model – how we allocate and manage our resources; how we respond to threats and opportunities; the ways in which we integrate science and technology into day-to-day actions; and how we will provide unique value to conservation, partners, elected officials and the public. SHC moves us toward a new business model where the Service is not solely a manager of habitats and populations, but is providing knowledge that will be the biological foundation for landscape-level fish and wildlife conservation. This business model will have us acting less opportunistically, and more comprehensively and strategically about our day-to-day work. This is not a pilot, and while it is challenging, it is not pie-in-the-sky. It is in use and proven, but will occur more broadly only as we increase understanding, training, and tools across the FWS. As a result, we will provide greater leadership in the conservation of trust species, sharpen our own priorities, and strengthen program coordination to focus limited resources more effectively. In the context of Shaping our Future, SHC represents a long-term commitment with practical short-term gains, but tremendous long-term returns.
SHC is high definition conservation. It helps us to see and seize opportunity more strategically, focus partnership more clearly, and organize our work more effectively. It helps us learn from our success and failure more consistently and efficiently. It helps us achieve our vision and mission more successfully.