The Institute for Natural Resources’ (INR) Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (ORBIC) has received the 2013 Network Collaboration Award at the NatureServe network’s annual Biodiversity Without Boundaries conference in Baltimore. Oregon State University is INR’s headquarters. The work being honored began at OSU and is now split between OSU and Portland State University.
The honor recognizes ORBIC’s leadership in engaging network members in efforts to develop innovative conservation data and information. ORBIC is one of three members of the NatureServe network whose achievements earned the recognition from their peers this year.
“This award recognizes the steady stream of energy and innovation that ORBIC brings to the network,” said Mary Klein, president and CEO of NatureServe. “They consistently identify opportunities to address cross-cutting issues and develop pragmatic solutions through inventive methods and partnerships.”
“Oregon always works to try to implement new ideas, and ORBIC is fortunate to have experienced and dedicated staff willing to try new things,” said Jimmy Kagan, director of ORBIC. Kagan has a half-time appointment at OSU. “However, the ability to work with other programs across the country, and take advantage of their expertise and innovations with NatureServe’s support, has become a major reason for our recent successes.”
ORBIC’s persistence, cooperation, and coordination over several years enlisted more than 20 network members as state data stewards for the Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US). Network engagements on PAD-US with partners like USGS, the Conservation Biology Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and the GreenInfo Network also contributed to establishing NatureServe’s subsequent role in coordinating funding and participation for developing the National Conservation Easement Database.
ORBIC also works to enhance network contributions toward improvements in transportation decision-making. A TRB-funded research project led by Oregon State University, INR and ORBIC engaged staff from NatureServe and network members from five states. The effort produced a guide and framework that provides methods, data, tools, and case studies to support integrated conservation and transportation planning. Building on both existing conservation methodologies and the existing transportation planning process, the guide incorporates ecologically based assessments and ecosystem services considerations while addressing such projects’ complex implementation-stage compliance issues. By piloting comprehensive wetland catalogues and state-level species distribution modeling, the project has generated strong federal interest in scaling the framework up to the regional and national level due to the resulting improved environmental outcomes and faster project delivery.
ORBIC also led the establishment of a consortium of biodiversity distribution modeling centers, enlisting participation from NatureServe and 13 different U.S. network members. Although other efforts are underway for particular jurisdictions, this collaboration is unique in its focus on range-wide species distribution and habitat models that span multiple jurisdictions. These range-wide maps are particularly important in assisting landowners, land managers and decision-makers.