South Mountains to Blue Ridge Corridor Conservation Analysis Garners Project Win at National Conference

The Southern Appalachian region is again receiving national attention, as a graphic analysis of the South Mountains to Blue Ridge corridor took third place at a national conservation conference.

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and Durham-based real estate consulting and strategic planning firm Unique Places LLC teamed up to submit a poster for the NatureServe Biodiversity Without Boundaries 2015 Conference poster session and contest.

The display, titled “South Mountains to Blue Ridge Landscape Connector Analysis,” was the result of a landscape study, analysis and mapping project in the foothills area of Western North Carolina, carried out by Foothills Conservancy and Unique Places.

“It is wonderful to see this project and this unique region recognized by the national conservation community,” says Tom Kenney, the conservancy’s land protection director, “especially on the heels of the new 2015 National Academy of Sciences study that identifies the middle to southern Blue Ridge Mountains, including the South Mountains, as number one in the nation for conservation expansion. We hope this will help increase awareness and support for conserving the amazing biodiversity that exists here.”

The study and analysis for the poster display revealed the importance of quality conservation  land corridors for biodiversity and species migration between the South Mountains and the southern Blue Ridge Mountains Escarpment. North Carolina’s Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions contain many important areas for intermingling of plant and animals species, and maintaining forest blocks and corridors to enable this intermingling to continue is imperative to the future of biodiversity in the region.

Michael Scisco, Chief Strategy Officer with Unique Places, was lead on GIS and mapping for the project. He says of the collaboration, “Working with Foothills Conservancy to conduct the conservation analysis and produce the South Mountain to Blue Ridge Corridor atlas and poster was a fulfilling experience for our Unique Places team. We value our nonprofit partners and understand the importance of their work in the community. Our goal is to help our partners succeed at meeting that mission.”

The annual Biodiversity Without Boundaries conference, hosted by the NatureServe network brings together some of the world’s greatest minds in conservation science to celebrate successes, collaborate on new initiatives, share innovations and design the future. Dozens of interactive workshops, symposiums, and panels comprise the heart of the agenda, sessions that tackle the most pressing topics facing conservation science today—as well as those approaching fast over the horizon. Awards in conservation science are also given out during the conference.