how we're planning

A conservation roadmap to stay connected through climate change.

Life moves. Seeds disperse. Birds migrate. Wildlife populations grow and shrink. Nature needs space.

But as our landscape has changed with highways, suburbs, cities, and farming, it has become more difficult for wild things to survive and find the space they need. On top of that, climate change is causing species to move even more and change their home ranges.*

How can we ensure nature has the space it needs through this difficult time?

Meet Nature’s Network, SWMLC’s Conservation and Climate Resiliency Plan.

Nature’s Network, SWMLC's Conservation and Climate Resiliency Plan Map

Click map for larger image.

“Nature’s Network” is Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy’s strategic map for protecting land. We developed Nature’s Network in 2019 with many community partners, creating a map that would show us the best places to protect land to benefit nature and people, long-term. By mapping the best areas to protect for water quality, biodiversity, and habitat connectivity, and combining them, we could then see places on the landscape where conservation could achieve many of our goals.

In a fragmented landscape, plants and wildlife can get stuck in islands of habitat, separated by a sea of human-made landscapes. Nature’s Network shows us how our most important biodiversity refuges can stay whole with targeted conservation work.

Connections are critical.

We know that as temperatures warm and conditions change over time, plants and animals will need to migrate from one place to another in order to find ideal growing conditions, food, shelter, mates, places to raise young, and species-saving genetic diversity.

So we took the next step and identified those places where species from regional biodiversity refuges (“hubs”) can move to new habitat through natural connections (“corridors”).

A north-south orientation is critical for these conservation corridors so that, as temperatures warm, species can find cooler conditions by moving north. Protected corridors also benefit migratory birds as they fly north and south each year.

Nature’s Network is our roadmap to a more resilient southwest Michigan.

climate change
in southwest Michigan

what we’re doing

how you can help

climate change in southwest Michigan

what we’re doing

how you can help