The Changing Landscapes Initiative
Photo by Rachel Meulman


Today’s actions can have a significant impact on the future. Land use decisions influence the availability of life-sustaining and life-improving natural resources, ranging from clean water and productive soils to open spaces and cultural heritage sites. The Changing Landscapes Initiative (CLI) takes a landscape-level approach to explore how we can manage working landscapes for the greatest benefit to future generations of people and wildlife.

In the past year, Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL) developed an initiative that integrates regional social and economic needs with landscape conservation. This initiative, “The Changing Landscapes Initiative”, ties newly developed field surveys that measure pollinator, bird, and mammal diversity, landscape connectivity, stream health, and invasive species threat to modeling approaches that allow us to examine patterns across the overall landscape.

The CLI is led by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Virginia Working Landscapes, Harvard Forest, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. It is currently supported by the Shenandoah National Park Trust, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Smithsonian Grand Challenges Initiative, and several private foundations.

Goals of the Changing Landscapes Initiative

The mission of the Changing Landscapes Initiative is to 1) protect the landscape’s ecological and cultural heritage and their contribution to quality of life for current and future generations of people and wildlife; 2) build upon our current understanding of land use and regional planning as it relates to natural resources and the local economy; 3) engage the public in envisioning their shared future and their contribution to its outcome; and 4) educate the public on the importance of wildlife diversity to human well-being.

The CLI’s focal region encompasses a 15 county region along the Blue Ridge in Northern Virginia. Through on-going collaboration, we hope to gain a better overall understanding of our region and guide local and regional decision-making.

The CLI uses the process of scenario planning to accomplish its goals. Please click here to learn more: Scenario Planning

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Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
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