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VABCI Conceptual Framework

VABCI works to deliver all-bird conservation by establishing measurable objectives for conservation planning and implementation. The Initiative has established a conceptual framework to develop and implement these objectives. The framework is organized into four broad categories:

Establishment of Population Goals

Population goals for Virginia's priority bird species should be based on estimated population sizes along with consideration of historical context, trends and distribution, and, where necessary, demographic data. The numbers of birds that available habitat can support is also a necessary part of the equation. Establishing population goals will require addressing data gaps through surveys, monitoring and research for those species for which we lack adequate information. The development of bird population targets for Virginia should be coordinated with larger regional and national efforts.

Establishment of Habitat Goals

Setting habitat goals for individual species or suites of species can involve a number of variables. These include: describing habitat needs for species/species-habitat suites; identifying species-specific habitat limiting factors; and assessing present and future habitat availability and distribution. Habitat goals are also dependent upon desired population targets, which are in turn affected by the numbers of birds that the landscape can support. The processes of setting population and habitat goals are therefore interdependent, and each can serve to refine the other.

Conservation Design

Conservation design entails identifying specific areas on the landscape where priority conservation actions are best implemented in order to achieve population and habitat goals. There is currently much confusion about the impact that landscape-level habitat management for particular species will have on populations of other priority species dependent on different habitat types (ex. forest interior vs. early-successional birds). A conservation design approach can provide partners with guidance on where and how to manage habitat in order to reach and maintain target populations of the entire suite of species of concern. Therefore, conservation design is necessary to integrate goals associated with different species and species-habitat groups. Conservation design principles have been outlined in the Partners In Flight Science Committee's 2005 white paper on the subject (The Five Elements Process: Designing Optimal Landscapes to Meet Bird Conservation Objectives) (PDF) and through the North American Bird Conservation Initiative's Conservation Design Subcommittee. A meeting to lay the groundwork for the coordination of conservation design efforts across the country was held in St. Louis, MO on April 11-13, 2006. Links to abstracts and presentations given at the workshop can be found here. Development of the first avian conservation design project on the East Coast has begun in 2008 through North Carolina State University. The project will focus on the southeastern coastal plain from southeastern Virginia to northern Florida.

Establishment and Implementation of Strategies to Meet Population, Habitat and Conservation Design Goals

Strategies relating to implementing of population goals, habitat goals, and conservation design goals can be classified into three broad categories: research and monitoring, conservation and management, and education and outreach. A successful conservation strategy should address each of these.

For more information on each of the above, please refer to the Initiative's guiding document, the VABCI Concept Document (PDF). This document is a distillation of the most important features of various national and regional bird plans. It represents the consensus of the bird conservation community at large on how to move forward with bird conservation implementation. The Document provides more detail on the Initiative's structure, function, organization and guiding principles.

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