Round River Conservation Studies collaborates with local partners to develop community-driven, conservation-based land use plans in various locations in the world. We concentrate our planning efforts in places where there is:
- an outstanding opportunity to protect wild spaces and biodiversity on a national or international scale
- a willing and collaborative local partner who shares Round River’s conservation values and ideals
- a clear political, legal or planning opportunity to affect meaningful conservation outcomes in the short to medium term.
Land use plans define a vision for the future use and conservation of the land. They typically consist of land use zones – such as protected areas, special management areas, and integrated use areas – as well as guidance to government decision makers and resource users on how activities, such as forestry, mining, commercial tourism, and agriculture, should be undertaken to promote sustainable land management over the long-term.
Strategic land use planning is typically the principal mechanism to establish regional scale, conservation or protected area networks. Conservation area networks that protect intact natural systems over large areas are the most effective way to achieve conservation of biological diversity over the long term.
Round River Conservation Studies’ collaborations on land planning are long-term and resource intensive commitments. Most of our land use planning collaborations are with First Peoples – the aboriginal communities of place who have a deep attachment to their land. We are able to bring technical expertise and planning capabilities to these communities so that they can organize, plan and negotiate effectively with governments and other stakeholders to give effect to their long-held land ethic.
Land use planning typically involves the following four stages, each of which draws on a distinct set of skills and abilities within Round River:
- Pre-planning and resource analysis: This early stage involves working closely with local partners to gain a thorough understanding of the values, interests and perspectives of the local community, through meetings, workshops and use of interview and survey tools. We typically lead the development of a comprehensive GIS database, and undertake a thorough analysis of the ecological values of the region.
- Land use plan development: Working closely with local partners, we lead the development of community-based land use plans, building on the pre-planning conservation analysis and community engagement work. The product of this phase is a document that expresses – in planning language- the community’s vision for the conservation, use and management of the land. The plan becomes a foundational tool for initiating negotiations with government and industry interests.
- Negotiation of land use agreements: Once the community, conservation-based vision is in place, we assist our local partners in engaging with various levels of government and other stakeholders to implement the community’s land use vision, either through comprehensive land use agreements or specific agreements with individual landholder or stakeholder interests.
- Implementation: A land use plan is mostly a “blue print” for future use and management of the land base. Translating the land use plan intent into stewardship action on the ground is an on-going responsibility. We work closely with our local partners to build internal technical, planning and negotiating capacity – as well as financial support – so that they can take on these responsibilities effectively over the long term.
There are only a few places left in the world where the opportunity still exists to protect healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and the land-based aboriginal cultures that depend on them. We are committed to collaborating with our aboriginal friends and partners to protect these special places.