The Pennsylvania Game Commission, in cooperation with the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation, hosted the state's first-ever Wildlife Diversity Forum at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in State College June 28 and 29, 2012. The invitation-only event served as a platform for conservation professionals to connect with established and potential partners to identify areas of common concern for imperiled birds and mammals, and their habitats.
Guided by the state's Wildlife Action Plan and focusing on species of conservation concern and their habitats, the Forum brought together conservation partners to discuss our shared conservation objectives and explore ways to advance them. It was an unprecedented opportunity to build a stronger conservation community in Pennsylvania. Ninety-one participants representing more than 50 organizations from across the Commonwealth joined us for this premier gathering.
We structured the event to meet the following objectives:
- Raise awareness within the conservation community about the full breadth of the agency's mission – conserving all birds and all mammals for all people, for all time
- Inform participants about Pennsylvania's Wildlife Action Plan and its upcoming revision
- Exchange information on accomplishments and progress made over the last decade
- Provide updates on the state of Pennsylvania's birds, mammals, and their habitats
- Motivate multiple stakeholders to better understand and advance wildlife conservation programs and projects at the local, state, and national level
We accomplished these by conveying information through brief presentations during a morning plenary session on the first day to ensure all attendees received similar background information. Facilitated small group discussions provided an opportunity to garner feedback on the issues we need to address – as a conservation community - to conserve Pennsylvania's diversity of birds, mammals, and their habitats. Each group categorized identified issues into one of these pre-selected categories in preparation for the second day:
- Conservation Planning & Design
- Education, Outreach, Human Dimensions & Communications
- Habitat Management
- Land Protection
- Policy, Regulation, Administration & Funding
- Population Monitoring & Assessment
- Scientific Research
A poster session and banquet dinner Thursday evening offered networking opportunities for agency personnel and conservation partners. The second day focused on prioritizing 340 conservation issues identified during the previous day's breakout sessions and discussing actions that could be taken to address priority issues. To accomplish these challenging tasks, forum participants were assigned to second-day breakout groups by the area of interest indicated on their registration form. Each group clarified language describing the top issues within their category, suggested conservation actions, and, if possible, identified organizations that could take those actions.
We are seeking additional review and comment on the conservation issues and priorities identified during the Wildlife Diversity Forum. Specifically, we are interested to know if any critical conservation issues to conserve Pennsylvania's diversity of birds, mammals and their habitats were missed during the Thursday's (Day One) breakout session. Also, please contribute additional thoughts on actions to address the identified conservation issues.
The links below provide the raw information as gathered at the event. Please submit comments any time to WildlifePlanCmnts@pa.gov using the subject line "Wildlife Diversity Forum comments". Anyone interested, not just event attendees, is welcome to review these materials so please share the opportunity with colleagues!
Day 1 Results
Day 2 Results
Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan
Pennsylvania Threatened and Endangered Species fact sheets
Goodrich et al. – WAP Appendix 2
Special thanks to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for funding to offer scholarships in support of 23 participants, including students from the Wildlife Leadership Academy and youth members of the Governor's Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation, who would have otherwise been unable to attend. And also a big thank you to the Wildlife For Everyone Foundation for helping to make this forum a reality.