Topic outline

  • Introduction

    Welcome to Appalachian NatureScape.

    Well-connected landscapes are necessary to sustain many of the natural and cultural resources important to the Appalachian region today and into the future.

    If these large connected areas are to endure and be resilient to impending environmental changes, it will require a collaborative effort involving many organizations and reaching across jurisdictional and political boundaries. The outcome of the Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning process and modeling is a dynamic ‘Conservation Blueprint’ or 'Landscape Conservation Design' called NatureScape. This is a dynamic or living design envisioned as an ongoing consultation with the conservation community - continuously incorporating new information and datasets as well as engaging subject-matter experts and committed stakeholders.

    NatureScape course image

    Course Registration

    The course contents are visible without logging in. However, you will need to register here on the Landscape Partnership Learning Network in order to:

    • Receive your Certificate of Completion
    • Create and update your Profile
    • Access your Dashboard

    Certificate of Completion

    After completing the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. Simply click the course name next to the certificate icon. You must be logged in to access the certificate.

    Course Description

    This course will explain the science behind the development of NatureScape resources, demonstrate to users how to access the data and online tool, provide examples of how this resource can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

    This course consists of an introduction and six additional modules. Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already understand the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already are familiar with the Appalachian NatureScape but have not yet explored the information resources, you can skip to Module 2.

    In Modules 2-4, the focus is to provide an understanding of how to use NatureScape resources and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis.

    Course Objectives

    Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

    • Develop an understanding of the process of large-scale conservation planning and design.
    • Access and utilize NatureScape resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal.
    • Apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing NatureScape resources as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
    • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the information resources to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

    Course Requirements

    Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

    Technical Requirements

    You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials and the ability to stream videos with sound.

    Having access to ArcMap is required if you plan to complete the technical case study activities which include working with NatureScape’s geospatial data sets. There are non-technical case study activities that do not require ArcMap.

    • Course Prerequisites

      Decorative icon for Course Prerequisites

      There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules. Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module.

      Participants may wish to review the materials below prior to starting this course.

    • Module 1: The Science Behind NatureScape and Its Suite of Resources

      Prerequisite

      Prior to starting this module, you should review the information in the Course Introduction. No experience with NatureScape resources is required for Module 1.

      Objective

      The objective of this module is to explain the need to address conservation at the landscape scale within the Appalachian LCC region and explain the science behind the Appalachian NatureScape.

      Overview

      The Appalachians are a landscape filled with globally-significant biological diversity and cultural resources that provides essential benefits to large cities and surrounding human communities. Due to the many large-scale threats (climate, energy, urbanization) facing the Appalachian region, broad, well connected landscapes will be required to sustain this region’s unique biodiversity and resources that are central to the health of our communities. To help address this challenge, the Appalachian LCC worked with the Baldwin Conservation Laboratory at Clemson University to lead a conservation planning and design process to provide the science, resources, and tools needed to promote conservation outcomes that link pristine and natural lands into an interconnected landscape for plants, animals, and humans.

      Clemson University used super-computing technology and Marxan software (the most widely used conservation planning tool in designing networks of terrestrial, aquatic, and marine conservation areas). to identify ecologically significant habitats and natural resources that are connected across the landscape and will be resilient to future threats. Throughout the process, Clemson researchers consulted with experts throughout the region to provide guidance and feedback on methodology and framework for assessing key conservation targets, threats to ecosystems, aquatic integrity. The end product is a Landscape Conservation Design which identifies a configuration of areas within the Appalachian LCC region, where if conserved, all conservation goals (developed from expert consultations) would be achieved simultaneously at the lowest cost (known as optimization).

      NatureScape resources developed from Clemson’s planning and design efforts include:

      • final report from Phase I of the study.
      • A gallery of maps depicting the results of the Marxan modeling process.
      • An online visualization tool allowing you to visualize the specific data driving the modeling output for your area of interest 
      • A suite of geospatial data sets which help illustrate areas of least-cost and greatest value to regional conservation objectives.
      • A Landscape Conservation Design map depicting the network design that represents broad, well-connected landscapes required to protect biodiversity and sustain many critical ecological processes and patterns across the geography.

    • Module 2: How to Use NatureScape’s Online Visualization Tool

      Prerequisite

      Before starting this module, you should complete Module 1. You should be familiar with the Appalachian NatureScape research project.

      Objective

      The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with NatureScape’s Online Visualization Tool.

      Overview

      Within this module, you will:

      • Watch a video presentation which provides a detailed overview of how to use the NatureScape Online Visualization Tool.
      • Complete a hands-on activity using the NatureScape Online Visualization Tool

    • Module 3: Online Visualization Tool – Case Study Examples

      Prerequisite

      Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1 and 2. You should be familiar with using the Online Visualization Tool.

      Objective

      The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the NatureScape Online Visualization Tool as part of a decision-making process to answer questions regarding where to invest resources (man-power & fiscal) to conserve natural resources at the local and regional level. 

      Overview

      Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how information from the Online Visualization Tool can be used to aid in decisions related to natural resource conservation. After watching the video, participants should review the summary information. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the Online Visualization Tool information with other information/data of one’s interest.


    • Module 4: How to Access and Use NatureScape’s Geospatial Data Sets

      Prerequisite

      Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1, 2, and 3. You should be familiar with the “Appalachian NatureScape” research project.

      Objective

      The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with the suite of geospatial data sets available in NatureScape.

      Overview

      Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides a detailed overview of the available geospatial data sets.


    • Module 5: NatureScape’s Geospatial Data Sets – Case Study Examples

      Prerequisite

      Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1, 2, 3, and 4. You should be familiar with using NatureScape’s geospatial data sets.

      Objective

      The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the NatureScape geospatial data sets as part of a decision-making process in local and regional conservation planning.

      Overview

      Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how NatureScape geospatial data sets can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation planning. After watching the video, participants should review the summary information. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying NatureScape data sets with other information/data of one’s interest.


    • Module 6: Case Study Activity

      Prerequisite

      Before starting this module, you should complete Modules 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. You should be familiar with NatureScape resources and be comfortable running and using these resources for your area of interest and have an understanding of some of the different ways these resources can be used.

      Objective

      Participants will apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the tools as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility. The final objective is to facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the tools to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

      Overview

      In Modules 3 and 5, we discussed several case study examples of how use NatureScape resources to identify and prioritizes areas for conservation based on organizational priorities and needs. In this module, users will walk through a case study example using the directions that are provided. Complete instructions for this activity are available for download from the course materials.

      There are two levels for this activity.

      The first level is called the Manager Level. This level will only utilize the Online Visualization Tool to prioritizes areas for conservation based on organizational priorities and needs. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level.

      The second level, Technical Level, will provide a section for downloading the NatureScape geospatial data sets and using this data in conjunction with other data sets within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software. Link to access and download data sets needed for the activity are included in the Technical Level Case Study Activity document.


    • Assessment Quiz

      This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1-6 of this course.

      You will need a score of 70% to pass.

      There are a total of 10 questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

      You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

    • Participant Feedback

      Thank you for participating in this online course. It is very important to us that the online courses we provide are beneficial to course participants. A link is provided below to a brief course assessment survey. We value your feedback and will use your responses to improve on future online offerings of this course.

    • Certificate of Completion

      Course certificate imageOnce you have completed the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. The Certificate will display the name you used to create your account.

      You must be logged in to access the certificate.