A lingering challenge in implementation of ecosystem-based planning is translating high-level conservation objectives to discrete management initiatives. Recent research underscores this, emphasizing the importance of the processes by which plans are developed and how programs to implement plans are delivered to stakeholders. This study contributes to the existing program design, research methodology, and conservation practice literature through an assessment of landowner and conservation practitioner relationships in the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks (GCPO) region of the southern U.S. The study utilizes online and mail surveys to gather data on landowner interactions with conservation practitioner organizations and interactions between practitioner organizations themselves. Data from the surveys suggest different patterns of interaction as reported by landowners and those reported by practitioner organizations working in the region, with landowners generally interacting more with extension and industry organizations and conservation practitioners interacting more with state and federal agencies. Key informant data also allows for analysis of the conservation practitioner network in the GCPO region. Resulting analysis suggests a well-connected network among the state and federal organizations critical to development and delivery of conservation programs in the GCPO LCC region. Though such configurations may be beneficial for the diffusion of innovative practices across a network, they may nonetheless require continued efforts to coordinate activities at the regional scale, an important component of practice-driven, ecosystem-level management.
Keywords: Ecosystem services; Internet survey; Landscape conservation cooperative; Mail survey; Outreach; Social network analysis.
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