Shared solutions to protect shared values

  • Bowling Ball Beach in Northern California. Credit: Matt McIntosh / NOAA ONMS.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Each of the seven partnerships learned a great deal about how to build climate resilience across large landscapes. These various approaches can serve as a source of inspiration for future initiatives and the lessons learned can inform and improve future large-scale collaborative efforts.

Building Relationships and Balancing Competing Needs


  • The difficulty of balancing competing needs can be difficult and time consuming. A diversity of sometimes conflicting missions, mandates, priorities, management approaches, and science can influence the group dynamics and outcomes.
  • Coming to agreement on a range of multiple conservation needs and priorities at various scales gets more complicated as the number of partners increases.
  • Involving a diversity of relevant agency and organization leaders and organizing them to receive meaningful input in a timely way can be difficult.
  • Clearly delineating agency and organizational boundaries and defining how the various management and jurisdictional responsibilities and priorities fit together is demanding. It can take a large investment of time to identify and assess all of the relevant existing projects and plans, and to look for gaps, overlaps, and redundancies that are relevant to a new landscape-scale initiative.
  • Climate change and/or resilience planning is not uniformly understood or incorporated by every organization in a partnership.
  • Some aspects of climate change are beyond the control or scope of the individual organizations and partnerships.

Lessons Learned

  • Involve as many relevant partners as is feasible from the start of any resilience planning process to ensure common understanding, obtain buy-in, and secure commitments.
  • Maintain interactive relationships with partners throughout the process to assess needs, incorporate all the relevant input, and evaluate the effectiveness of the final outcomes and products.
  • Develop a planning process that values and uses input from all parties. In many communities how you got to the end may be more important than the end goal or product.
  • Discuss workload requirements and divide the workload appropriately and fairly. Share information in multiple forums and formats, using innovation and technology.
  • In person workshops are an excellent tool for linking scientists, managers, and stakeholders together to assess needs and collaboratively develop priority outcomes. They also allow partners to build and maintain personal relationships and build trust. Webinars can also help link in partners that may be unable to meet in person.
  • Cultivating trust and building working relationships among groups takes time and effort.
  • There is no one "correct" way to approach climate resilience and resource conservation challenges. The geographic scale, scope of issues, number of partners and planning processes differs for each landscape and partnership.
  • Landscape-scale initiatives should build upon existing collaborations to help to identify, prioritize, and implement conservation actions.
  • Learn from and share successes and failures.
  • Celebrate success no matter how small.
  • Ensure there are staff dedicated to help foster and nurture relationships between meetings.

Information To Address The Complexity of Conservation Needs And Efforts


  • Climate related issues and impacts occur at different geographic scales and over different timeframes. Some of the impacts and solutions may be localized, others may be regional or even global, and they can occur over timeframes spanning months, to years, to decades.
  • Sound science and data are needed to inform agency and stakeholder processes to identify priority conservation actions. However, data is not always available or at a high enough resolution or timeframe to be fully useful.
  • It can be difficult to objectively and uniformly define criteria to prioritize both high value habitats and ecosystem services for people.

Lessons Learned

  • Determine and assess existing conservation planning efforts within a landscape early in the process. Find out who is doing what and what science and information can be brought to the discussion.
  • Identify the appropriate technological tools and needs early on, including modeling applications and visualization platforms.
  • Develop common geospatial templates from which all partners can work from and begin a conversation. Developing a GIS tool, such as a Storymap or layered PDF, allows all the partners to visualize areas of highest risk, assists in determining priority areas, and combines all partner projects for a given geographical area.
  • A multi-year perspective is needed to reach large-landscape restoration goals.
  • Organizations may need to shift the traditional way of doing business to meet changing scope, complexity, and needs
  • Scale is important when working on complex problems. Too large of a scale, and efforts are mired in complexity. Too small of a scale and you are not effectively assessing ecological problems.

Resource Limitations


  • No new resources were made available for this initiative, although it added requirements to existing partnerships. This ultimately limited the number of actions and the speed at which they could be accomplished.
  • Effective stakeholder conservation planning processes require additional resources to bring partners to meetings from throughout the geography.
  • Existing local, State, Tribal, and Federal contracting mechanisms are not typically flexible and can impede collaboration rather than encourage it.

Lessons Learned

  • Working across large landscapes is resource intensive. Dedicated funds and staff time are needed to achieve results in a timely manner.
  • Look for opportunities to create awareness and raise the profile for these types of partnerships, as well as for support to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Find ways to make it easy for the partners to pool funds and share or leverage resources.
  • Invest time and resources to build local capacity to ensure that the momentum of the partnership will continue once the headlines fade.

Key Takeaways

  • No single agency or organization has the capability or resources to build resilience at a landscape-scale on its own. Multi-stakeholder partnerships such as LCCS and other diverse collaboratives can serve as convening bodies to help build lasting relationships across participants, weave together existing resource management efforts to effectively address stressors and impacts that transcend jurisdictions, such as climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and invasive species.
  • Resilience planning processes should include as many relevant partners as is feasible from the start to ensure common understanding, buy-in and support.
  • Ensure there is sufficient expertise and resources to facilitate communication, cooperation, and actions among multiple partners, and to achieve objectives in a timely manner.
  • Resource conservation that encompasses climate resilience is a long-term and iterative process. The lessons learned from successes and challenges should be used to help guide existing and future conservation efforts.
  • Success is contagious and transferable. There is great potential to learn from and appropriately transfer landscape-scale conservation planning processes and decision support tools to other areas. The successes of this initiative can help jumpstart efforts in other landscapes.