The Washington Biodiversity Council was a public-private partnership of landowners, government agencies, tribes, and members of the business, education, and environmental communities. It operated under Governor’s executive orders from 2004 - 2010 and was charged to create a long-term vision and guide programs for conserving Washington’s remarkable biological diversity for the benefit of all.
The council worked to sustain and promote biodiversity as the full range of life in all its forms, explain its vital importance in Washington’s economy and quality of life, and encourage everyone to advance the stewardship of the state's natural heritage for future generations.
The council was tasked by the Governor with crafting and guiding the Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, a long-term vision and approach that focuses on six major areas: guiding investments, incentives and markets, land use and development, science and information, education and outreach, and achieving results.
The council and its partners sponsored projects to implement key parts of the Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy:
- Biodiversity Scorecard. The council worked with University of Washington researchers to develop a draft scorecard model that would help keep track of how the state's biodiversity is doing. The model considers the status of species and ecosystems, ecosystem processes, human activities, and ecosystem services.
- Information about this project is now available from the Washington Natural Heritage Program.
- Conservation Opportunity Maps. These maps assess the distribution of important species, plant communities, and ecological systems, and overlay that with human population trends. They provide high-level guidance on where to invest in biodiversity conservation activities in Washington.
- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has developed a dataviewer application for the maps using ArcGIS, which enables users to see the data underlying the maps.
- The Washington
Natural Heritage Program has enhanced the mapviewer on the
LandScope Washington site to include these maps and data.
- Biodiversity Conservation Toolbox for Land Use Planners. This toolbox aims to put biodiversity conservation information for Washington planners in one place. It is organized in six main categories to address the primary needs that planners identified: resources, guidance documents, case studies, policy language, data and maps, and training and conferences.
- Biodiversity Project Website. The Web site was created to provide a hub for biodiversity information in Washington State.
The council also helped sponsor the following projects to demonstrate aspects of the "Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy" at the local level.
- Biodiversity Education through Hands-on Student Projects. The Pacific Education Institute worked with teachers in Grays Harbor County to help them incorporate biodiversity field work into student projects. The project included educator workshops, senior culminating projects, and a student showcase.
- North Central Washington Regional Project. The Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship (IRIS) piloted how recommendations in the Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy can work to help regional planning. It explored forming a regional biodiversity council and set up a network of photo-monitoring trails.
- Habitat Connectivity Strategic Communications Project. This project was part of a larger effort being undertaken by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group. The group is promoting the long-term viability of wildlife populations in Washington State through a science-based collaborative approach.
- Healthy Lands Initiative. The Healthy Lands Initiative worked to develop a shared community vision for how biodiversity conservation can be integrated with the economic and social needs of the north central Washington region, including Okanogan, Douglas, and Chelan Counties, and the Colville Indian Reservation.
- Citizen Stewardship of the Lower White River. The Pierce County Biodiversity Alliance led this project. It engaged landowners and citizens in learning and stewardship through rapid biological inventory (BioBlitz), data collection (NatureMapping), and community planning.