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Landscape Conservation Forecasting: Great Smoky Mountains NP

link DOWNLOAD FILE: final report

Landscape Conservation Forecasting
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Greg Low, Applied Conservation
Rob Klein, National Park Service
Katherine Medlock, The Nature Conservancy
September 2017

Landscape Conservation Forecasting (LCF) is a management decision-making support tool that has been successfully used by public agencies in numerous landscapes across the United States, including the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Basin National Park. Benefits of using LCF include:

  • Uses the best available science to develop reference conditions that describe a Natural Range of Variability (NRV) for each ecological system modeled
  • Uses remote sensing to assess the health of existing ecological systems
  • Employs predictive ecological models to demonstrate how those ecosystems will change over time
  • Utilizes computer simulations to assess how alternative management actions can influence those changes
  • Customizes management actions based on agency mandates or local constraints
  • Provides a cost/benefit analysis for management actions

In 2015, the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy entered into an agreement to collaborate on LCF with a primary focus on the fire-maintained forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The LCF project proceeded in two stages.  Stage one processed and optimized existing park vegetation data, ecological zone data and LiDAR data for use in LCF.  Stage two included four workshops in 2016 that engaged park staff and others to develop state-and-transition models for historical vegetation, complete the ecological departure analysis, and compare potential future management scenarios. 


Also available: recording of the webinar presentation by Rob Klein and Katherine Medlock (May 1, 2018)