Key words

Landscape connectivity: The degree to which similar landscape elements, such as habitat patches or natural vegetation, are connected to each other so as to facilitate the movement of target organisms and ecological processes between them.

Habitat corridor: Components of the landscape that provide a continuous or near continuous pathway that may facilitate the movement of target organisms or ecological processes between areas of suitable habitat.

Landscape permeability: The degree to which a regional landscape, encompassing a variety of natural, semi‐natural and developed land cover types, sustains natural ecological processes and is conducive to the movement of many types of organisms. Landscape permeability is a function of the connectedness of natural cover, the hardness of barriers, and the spatial arrangement of land uses.

 

Geography

The mountains to the seacoast, the plains to the foothills

Scattered throughout the Northern Appalachian/Acadia region are the houses and roads, cities and villages that are home to two million people. This region contains immense areas of deep, unbroken woods—from the Adirondack forests in the west to the Canadian forests in the northeast.

These serve as vital areas for wildlife—contiguous woodlands where natural conditions prevail and wildlife can flourish largely undisturbed. Located in between these areas are smaller patches of undisturbed woodlands intermixed with open land, cities and towns, pastures, roads, lakes, and wetlands. And though there are significant gaps in the forest cover—in places such as the Champlain Valley, for example—there are still forested links that give wildlife the freedom to live and migrate.

Threatened by landscape fragmentation

Recent scientific analysis coordinated by the bi-national Two Countries, One Forest collaborative reveals that the region risks being separated into a series of disconnected ecological islands—isolating wildlife populations and limiting their ability to migrate and adapt in response to climate change.

Making landscape connectivity a priority

To sustain healthy populations of wide-ranging mammals and other wildlife, we need to maintain not only large areas of core habitat but also the landscape connectivity that will allow animals to move from one habitat block to another. Scientists refer to a landscape’s “permeability”, the degree to which landscape features give animals enough cover and security to move around obstacles such as Towns, and to safely cross roads to reach suitable habitat to meet their life needs. In the Northern Appalachian/Acadia region maintaining and enhancing landscape connectivity has emerged as a paramount conservation need.

In our region, the larger conserved areas, such as the Adirondack Park in the West and the White Mountains in the East, are connected by a number of smaller, forested “stepping stones” in between. While most animals do not cover the entire distance between the two mountain ranges, maintaining a network of habitat from one to the other allows for genetic flow between animal populations and lets individuals range as far as they need.

 

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