A team of wildlife experts spanning the whooping crane’s North American flyway was assembled to wrestle with these questions. Three meetings were held – in Nebraska, Canada, and Texas – using the Conservation Action Planning, or CAP, process as a framework. CAP helps conservationists define their priorities for action, determine exactly what success looks like, and identify threats to that success.
The Nature Conservancy developed CAP as a relatively simple, straightforward and proven approach for planning, implementing and measuring success for conservation projects. The methodology has been tested and deployed successfully by hundreds of teams working to conserve endangered species, threatened ecosystems, valuable landscapes, compromised watersheds and important seascapes around the world.
CAP enables project staff to responsively adapt their actions to improve strategy effectiveness and achieve greater conservation impact. It works to discipline conservation practitioners to think in hard-hitting ways to build focus and uncover critical new pathways for action wherever they work.
CAP’s common language and approach provides conservation practitioners with the means to capture, communicate, learn and share what is working worldwide.
The whooping crane begins its life in the boreal marshes of Northwestern Canada as a chick. In a few short weeks, it must get the energetic resources to follow its parents on a transcontinental journey to the gulf coast of southern Texas. Once there, it must begin gathering the food resources it will need to make the journey back in the spring, eventually to have a chick of its own. These three components – nesting, migration, and wintering – are the sum of the whooping crane’s existence, and without the successful completion of each component in the bird’s life cycle, it will not survive.
It is critical to understand what affects the bird’s physical health and its natural environment, examining each life cycle stage individually to understand both bird and habitat in each time and place. Finally, we must look at how all of these pieces intersect if we are to move the wild whooping crane population to a point of long-term sustainability.