NORC (national outdoor recreation conference)

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Human Dimensions of Landscape-scale Conservation in the Appalachians - Presentation 

06-03-2024 12:04

The Appalachian region is experiencing fast-paced growth and development, and emerging impacts of a changing climate, that pose increased demand on community infrastructure and threats to degrading experience on the Appalachian Trail through overuse and diminished ecological integrity.

This could impact the community character and livelihoods of thousands of communities, and some rural communities disproportionately. Integrating the human dimensions of natural resources into conservation and outdoor recreation planning for the Appalachian Mountain landscape is essential to understanding the feasibility of scaling collective conservation efforts and outdoor recreation planning under a shared vision, attracting local community buy-in and directed investment, and gaining policy support at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy partnered with George Mason University and other academic partners to deploy an evidence-based approach to identify Appalachian landscape conservation stakeholders that exist across social-ecological sub-systems, understand their network of current and potential partnerships, assess stakeholder attitudes, values, perceptions, and beliefs related to large-scale Appalachian landscape conservation (including potential outcomes), and develop a stakeholder engagement action plan for outreach, information gathering, and science communication to encourage outcomes of conservation action, policy, and investment that ultimately support climate change adaptation.

This session will provide an overview of the research approach to understanding the human dimensions of conservation and discuss how this can be used to inform community and outdoor recreation destination management and action towards climate resiliency.

The audience will be provided a general overview to understand:

  1. How a science-based understanding of the landscape can help inform place-based conservation; 
  2. The social-ecological system research approach to gain knowledge for the beliefs and values held a the local level related to protection of the landscape and the synthesized findings; 
  3. How this approach translates into a stakeholder engagement action plan and social network analysis to gain deeper relationships and establish new partnerships, especially especially those who have historically been excluded from conservation planning and decision making such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).; and 
  4. How the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will be using this information to inform trail management and land stewardship with community engagement.

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Uploaded - 06-03-2024

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