Transferring Conservation Science in New Hampshire’s Coastal Watershed

  • Great Bay NERR in New Hampshire. Photo credit: Jerry Monkman

    Great Bay NERR in New Hampshire. Photo credit: Jerry Monkman

The Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds (2006 Land Conservation Plan) has guided successful land conservation efforts to protect over 82,000 acres in New Hampshire’s coastal watershed. However, climate change and land development continue to impact and compromise natural systems and their ecosystem services across the region. While natural lands are steadily lost to development, land protection progress is slowly declining. 

The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership (GBRPP) – a regional partnership formed in 1994 that includes land trusts and federal and state agencies – promotes collective conservation goals and implements landscape-scale conservation and stewardship programs. In the summer of 2018, the Great Bay Reserve received NERRS Science Collaborative capacity building funds to work with the GBRPP. Following that project, the New Hampshire Chapter of The Nature Conservancy secured funding in 2019 and 2020 to complete the GIS analysis needed to update the 2006 Land Conservation Plan, guided by the goals established during the capacity grant. The updated plan, the NH Coastal Watershed Conservation Plan, represents conservation priorities for climate adaptation, water resource protection, wildlife habitat and landscape connectivity corridors, and working lands. 

The project team will transfer the science of the 2021 NH Coastal Watershed Conservation Plan to key end users to increase the pace and scale of land protection across the priority locations identified by the plan. The project team will complete a needs assessment of end users to determine the most needed support tools and resources to implement the Plan, develop these tools and resources, and build a website as the go-to location for coastal watershed land protection resources. The team will also work with the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership to update the land conservation goals and metrics tracked in the State of our Estuaries Report. Outreach and engagement tools and resources will be tested with end users, further refined, and disseminated through outreach efforts to at least 10 municipalities, conservation professionals and funders. By establishing partnerships between end users, the team plans to support conservation efforts for both nature and people.