Implementing landscape scale conservation across organizational boundaries: lessons from the Central Appalachian region, United States.
Natural resources across the United States are increasingly managed at the landscape scale through cooperation among multiple organizations and landowners. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) agency leaders have widely promoted this approach since 2009 when Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack called for "all lands" management. Landscape scale projects have been undertaken to address multiple goals such as single species conservation, resilience to fire, invasive species eradication, and others. The West Virginia Restoration Venture (WVRV)-one of five landscape scale conservation projects funded 2014-2016 across the Northeast and Midwest and known as "Joint Chiefs" projects - was evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of USFS employees to gain insight into how cross-boundary landscape scale conservation projects are implemented in the region. In this paper, the team used qualitative interview data from project participants to explore processes related to developing a shared vision for the landscape, implementation priorities, and methods to work across institutional and property ownership boundaries. Grounded in the landscape and collaborative resource management literatures, the report shows how established inter-organizational networks, flexible approaches to management, and a "shelf-stock" of ready-to-implement projects led to on-the-ground success. The authors provide insight about factors that constrain and facilitate the implementation of landscape scale conservation projects that have multiple goals, landowners, and organizational partners.