Completed: Mar 01, 2009

A Framework for Effective Conservation Management of the Sonoran Desert in California

Regional perspective in addressing threats and developing management strategies

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) commissioned CBI to develop a Framework for effective conservation management for the Sonoran Desert of southern California, with the intent that the document would help guide the efforts of TNC and others in the preservation of this unique ecosystem.  California’s Sonoran Desert is at increased risk from development, habitat fragmentation, water diversion and overdraft, global climate change, invasive nonnative species, nitrogen deposition, a modified fire regime, and a myriad of land use impacts.  At the same time, its human population is rapidly growing, creating an urgent need for enhanced and efficient conservation planning to assure the long-term viability of its unique ecosystems and species.  Although protected areas exist and many conservation efforts are underway, existing efforts have been hindered by fragmented ownership, diverse missions and mandates among landowners, and a lack of a region-wide conservation vision. 

In this report, we propose a Framework for effective conservation management that encompasses a regional perspective in addressing threats, and that will allow participating land managers to increase effectiveness and efficiencies in the face of limited funding and increasing conservation challenges.  Specifically, this Framework document (1) summarizes conservation values and targets, (2) summarizes existing conservation and management emphases and stewardship roles, (3) describes current threats and conservation challenges, (4) identifies gaps in existing management and conservation efforts relative to current threats and protection of biodiversity, ecological processes, and focal species, and (5) identifies and describes opportunities for improved management and protection of the desert ecosystem, via enhanced unilateral actions of public and private landowners, as well as collaborative conservation management among stakeholders.

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