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National and Regional Conservation Planning

Linking avian conservation efforts in Virginia to bird conservation actions and objectives at larger geographic scales is important to the VABCI mission. National and regional bird conservation planning and implementation has grown over many broad fronts in the past 20 years. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) was developed in 1986 to address declines in North American waterfowl populations. Collaborative regional and local partnerships known as Joint Ventures were then established to implement the Plan. These efforts spearheaded the creation of similar national or international conservation plans for declining landbirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds, and for individual species such as Northern Bobwhite and Ruffed Grouse and, more recently, Golden-winged Warbler and Rusty Blackbird. Since the late 1990s, these plans are being integrated through the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), a 'coalition of government agencies, private organizations, academic institutions, and private industry leaders in Canada, the United States, and Mexico working to achieve integrated bird conservation that will benefit all birds in all habitats'. NABCI made a significant contribution by establishing Bird Conservation Regions (BCR) as avian ecological planning units across North America. These are ecologically distinct regions with similar bird communities, habitats, and resource management issues. Many BCRs have given rise to regional all-bird conservation initiatives.

Although they were developed under the NAWMP, Joint Ventures have accepted the challenge of carrying out multiple bird conservation plans. Virginia is one of eighteen states partnering with the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV), which 'brings together public and private agencies, conservation groups, and other partners focused on the conservation of habitat for native birds in the Atlantic Flyway of the United States from Maine south to Puerto Rico.' ACJV staff coordinates the all-bird conservation initiatives of the three BCRs that intersect Virginia. Two of these, the South Atlantic (BCR 27) and the Mid-Atlantic (BCR 30), have well-organized initiatives that have developed conservation implementation plans. The Piedmont BCR (29) is currently the least developed of the three. Planning efforts in this BCR are on hold until a coordinator's position can be funded. For more information on each of the BCRs, including links to fact sheets, plans and websites, please visit the BCR section of the ACJV page. Virginia is also a partner within the newest Joint Venture, the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV). Until recently, this Joint Venture was an all-bird initiative of the Appalachian Mountains BCR (BCR 28). The AMJV 'is a partnership of agencies and organizations whose focus is to conserve (i.e., protect, restore, enhance) habitats for priority bird species in the Appalachian Mountains in order to improve or sustain their populations.'

Because of its geographic position on the Atlantic Coast as well as its landforms and its climate, Virginia's rich bird diversity includes breeding species that are typical of more northerly and more southerly latitudes. Fittingly, Virginia's bird conservation efforts are often coordinated with both the northern and southern regional efforts of the national and international bird conservation initiatives. Below are links to these initiatives, their working groups and their guiding documents.
BCR map


North American Waterfowl Management Plan logo 'The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) was developed and signed in 1986 in response to declining waterfowl populations. This plan lays out a strategy between the United States, Canadian and Mexican (after 1994) governments to restore wetlands. Recovery of these shared resources is implemented through habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement through regionally-based self-directed partnerships known as joint ventures. The original plan was updated in 1994, 1998 and 2004'. 'In 2005, the ACJV completed a revision of the original ACJV Implementation Plan that steps down continental and regional waterfowl population and habitat goals from the NAWMP 2004 Update to the ACJV area', within which Virginia is included.


Waterbird Conservation of the Americas logo 'Waterbird Conservation for the Americas (WAC) is an independent, international, broad-based, and voluntary partnership created to link the work of individuals and institutions having interest and responsibility for conservation of waterbirds and their habitats in the Americas'. WAC produced The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan in 2002. Virginia is included in the regional plans of both the Mid-Atlantic/New England/Maritimes Regional Working Group (MANEM) and the Southeast U.S. Region Working Group.


U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan logo 'Concerns over shorebirds led to the creation of the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan in 2000. A partnership of individuals and organizations throughout the U.S., the plan develops conservation goals for each region of the U.S, identifies important habitat conservation and key research needs, and proposes education and outreach programs to increase awareness of shorebirds and their threats'. Virginia is part of both the Northern Atlantic and the Southeastern Coastal Plain-Caribbean regions. Each of these has produced a Regional Shorebird Plan which steps down the goals of the national plan.


Partners In Flight 'Partners In Flight (PIF) was launched in 1990 in response to growing concerns about declines in the populations of many land bird species, and in order to emphasize the conservation of birds not covered by existing conservation initiatives. The initial focus was on neotropical migrants, species that breed in the Nearctic (North America) and winter in the Neotropics (Central and South America), but the focus has spread to include most landbirds and other species requiring terrestrial habitats.' In 2004, PIF completed the Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan. Within the ACJV, PIF is organized into Northeast and Southeast Working Groups. Virginia actively participates in meetings of both working groups.
Prior to the adoption of BCRs as bird conservation planning units, PIF had delineated Physiographic Areas as its planning units by modifying the strata originally devised by the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Virginia falls within six such areas, which can be viewed through this composite map of the Physiographic Areas. Follow the links below to view individual Physiographic Area Bird Conservation Plans that include Virginia:

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative logo 'In March 2002, the Southeast Quail Study Group formed the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. The Initiative is the first-ever landscape-scale habitat restoration and population recovery plan for Northern Bobwhite in the United States. The continuing serious decline of bobwhite populations across most of the species range was the impetus for large-scale coordinated, collaborative action at the regional level'. The Plan associated with the Initiative can be viewed here (PDF).

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan for North America logo 'The Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan for North America was approved in September 2006 by the Bird Conservation Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The Plan is the culmination of over 3 years of work by over 50 natural resource professionals from throughout the range of the ruffed grouse in the United States and Canada', and was coordinated by the Ruffed Grouse Society.

Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler logo 'The Golden-winged Warbler Working Group is comprised of over 80 United States, Canadian, and Latin American ornithologists, conservationists, and managers from academia, federal and state agencies, international non-governmental organizations, and industry'. The Working Group, which formed in August of 2003, is coordinating habitat-related research across various states and has produced outreach materials relating to species status and breeding habitat management.

Rusty Blackbird

Smithsonian National Zoological Park logo The International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group was formed in February of 2005 to 'develop a cross-seasonal and comprehensive research program to develop the information to understand the causes and ecological significance of the rusty blackbirds' decline'. Through a series of workshops, the Group has worked to elevate awareness of the conservation status of this rapidly declining species, and to coordinate research and conservation activities on its breeding and wintering grounds.

Maury River banner image by Michael L. Smith