Southern Sierra Partnership
The Southern Sierra Partnership (SSP) is an alliance formed in 2009 by Audubon California, the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, the Sierra Business Council, The Nature Conservancy, and later joined by the Conservation Biology Institute. This group engaged in a collaborative conservation planning process for the southern Sierra and Tehachapi Mountains (southern Sierra). This planning process took a rigorous approach to incorporate climate change into conservation planning.
The SSP along with representatives from ten agencies and organizations characterized biodiversity and ecosystem services, examined climate change projections, and assessed existing and future threats to biodiversity. The SSP developed a regional conservation area design and regional and project-scale conservation strategies for both public and private lands in the southern Sierra and Tehachapi Mountains.
The SSP presents this regional vision as a five-year action plan to spur collective action and greater coordination amongst the diverse stakeholders across the region. Regional collaboration will be essential to conserving the exceptional biological diversity and ecosystem services of the southern Sierra and Tehachapis in the face of accelerating and interacting threats, including climate change. There is momentum for action: some parts of the plan are already being implemented.
The regional design process helps to identify areas that allow connectivity across habitat types, physiographic regions, and land ownerships, especially for wide-ranging and migratory species. Preserving connectivity in this region is critical to support wildlife population viability, maintain critical ecological processes, and mitigate the negative effects of fragmentation. Wildlife move within and between suitable habitat for many reasons at multiple spatial and temporal scales. In addition, maintaining movement pathways for plant species’ seed dispersal and longer-term range shifts is important for long-term viability under a changing climate. Given this, it is important to maintain connectivity within and across multiple habitats and across latitudinal, elevational, and climatic gradients.