J. Michael Scott
In an increasingly diverse society, we, as environmental professionals, are confronted by questions that are by nature more and more interdisciplinary because they involve complex areas needing complex management treatments. It is a challenge to procure the necessary funds and intellectual resources needed to answer these questions. Single agencies often lack both the depth and breadth of such resources, let alone capabilities to map natural resources or ecological processes across ecoregions, biomes, and continents. Thus, we find the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service turning to volunteers to conduct Breeding Bird Surveys (Bystrak 1981) and several federal agencies joining together to form the Multi-Resolution Land Cover Consortium (MRLC) (Loveland and Shaw 1996), to mention only two examples (see also Trauger 1996). MRLC partners had been making multiple purchases of the same TM satellite scene areas where a single joint purchase realized an immediate savings of 6 million dollars to the federal government. In addition, one-stop preprocessing was used to not only save dollars but also create a more standardized final product (Loveland and Shaw 1996). This partnership is facilitating a synoptic and seamless land cover map for the country rather than "dueling" maps which would create needless conflicts and be far more expensive.
The success of GAP was only possible through partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, state natural heritage programs, museums, state fish and game agencies, and many other groups coming together for the purpose of creating wildlife habitat relationship models and maps of predicted animal distributions. Building bridges rather than walls between agencies in joint efforts, and the vision to transcend agency and other political boundaries, are absolutely critical if we are to be successful in future GAP efforts. GAP investigators have been leaders in creating the present environment of cooperation (Dzur et al. 1996).
At our 1996 national meeting at Key Largo, I was remiss in my presentations when I failed to adequately acknowledge the absolutely critical role that partnerships have played in GAPthese partnerships have all too frequently been the result of a single individual going against the institutional paradigm of "do-it-yourself" turf. Their efforts are at the heart of any successes that GAP has had. We need to acknowledge that contribution; thus, my failure to fully recognize the role other agencies have played in the multiagency, interdisciplinary land cover mapping efforts did not serve to strengthen the institutional bridges we have all striven so hard to create.
Partnerships are a necessary and valued part of GAP. Thus, I urge all those involved in GAP to continue to build bridges and partnerships, leverage funds and intellectual capacities, nurture current partnerships, and work creatively to build new partnerships. Give recognition to existing partners when you make presentations on your projects and when you write up the results. Better yet, include your partners in the gathering and analysis of data, in the writing of reports and manuscripts, as well as co-authors for your refereed journal articles.
Bystrak, D. 1981. The North American Breeding Bird Survey. Pages 34-41 in C.J. Ralph and J.M. Scott. Estimating numbers of terrestrial birds. Studies in Avian Biology No. 6.
Dzur, R.S., M.E. Garner, K.G. Smith and F.W. Limp. 1996. Gap analysis partnerships for mapping the vegetation of Arkansas. Pages 179-198 in J.M. Scott, T.H. Tear, and F.W. Davis. Gap analysis: A landscape approach to biodiversity planning. American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Bethesda, Maryland.
Loveland, T.R., and D. Shaw. 1996. Multi-resolution land characterization: Building collaborative partnerships. Pages 79-85 in J.M. Scott, T.H. Tear, and F. Davis, editors. Gap Analysis: A landscape approach to biodiversity planning. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Bethesda, Maryland.
Trauger, D.L., W.C. Tilt, and C.B. Hatcher. 1995. Partnerships: Innovative strategies for wildlife conservation. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23:114-119.