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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Evaluating Ecological Conservation Gaps Across a Proposed Sentinel Landscape

coreopsis along the California coast

Group Members: Thuy-Tien Bui, Madison Calbert, Andrew Palacios, Natalie Smith, Priscilla Ta

Faculty Advisors: Ruth Oliver

Client: LegacyWorks Group




As the last remaining stretch of undeveloped coastline in Southern California, the Gaviota region emerges as a critical focal point for conservation initiatives. Situated at the convergence of multiple ecoregions, the Gaviota region is a major biodiversity hotspot supporting a wide variety of plants and animals. Increasing development pressure and climate change threaten biodiversity in the region, which highlights the need to implement conservation projects to enhance ecological resilience to the impacts of these disturbances. However, advancing conservation efforts can be challenging due to conflicts between recommended action and feasibility – often referred to as the planning-implementation gap. A Sentinel Landscapes Partnership (SLP), established in partnership with Vandenberg Space Force Base, could address the conservation implementation gap for the Gaviota region. A SLP designation provides opportunities to fund regional conservation efforts and strengthen the network of stakeholders to achieve shared goals and maximize impact. For our project, we seek to identify regional conservation priorities based on models of ecological indicators and interviews with local SLP stakeholders. Through our interviews, we also aim to understand and analyze factors motivating local conservation projects. Finally, we plan to compare modeled priority areas with anticipated priority projects and provide recommendations for conservation projects to be included in an SLP designation application for the Gaviota region.
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