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Virginia’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan

Virginia’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan was written to offer strategies for rising to the challenges of the 21st century. This Plan describes opportunities to maintain and improve our natural habitats, allowing us to conserve wildlife in ways that benefit people. It details efforts to restore our rivers, maintain our forests, and prevent species from declining to the point where federal protections are imposed.

Practical actions based on the best available science describe how we help our wildlife and our human communities adapt to changing conditions. Most importantly, this document demonstrates that some of our most critical conservation issues can be addressed in a cost-effective way using proven techniques and technologies.

Virginia’s original 2005 Wildlife Action Plan was a guiding force in wildlife conservation over the last 10 years. It represented a strategy to conserve Virginia’s wildlife resources and help keep species from becoming endangered. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and partners have used the Action Plan to identify key species and habitats in need of conservation and implement projects and research needed to address those issues on behalf of all Virginians. Updating Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan provided the opportunity to review the status of species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) and their habitats, revise conservation priorities, and reprioritize conservation actions. Furthermore, this update allowed for a review the conservation efforts, research, and projects implemented during the past decade.

The updated Action Plan identifies 883 species that are in decline. Habitat loss is the single greatest challenge impacting these species. The Action Plan identifies strategies to conserve and restore these species. In addition to a statewide overview, the Action Plan describes strategies for 21 multi-county planning regions which are roughly consistent with Virginia’s Planning District Commissions. For each planning region, the Action Plan identifies the local wildlife priorities, the habitats those species rely upon, threats impacting these species and habitats, and conservation actions that can be taken to address those threats. The Action Plan identifies: priority places for either conservation or restoration within each planning region, programs working to address threats or define best management practices, and data that could be used to document and evaluate the success of conservation actions. Finally, the updated Action Plan describes climate trends that have been projected for Virginia and identifies actions that can be taken to conserve wildlife under changing climatic conditions.

The 2015 Wildlife Action Plan:

  • Emphasizes habitat conservation. While single species efforts may be necessary to conserve the most critically imperiled species, scores of other species can be effectively and efficiently conserved via actions that protect and restore the quality of their habitats.
  • Communicates priority actions and needs at the local level. By providing Local Action Plan Summaries for each of 21 planning regions in Virginia, this new Action Plan will better facilitate conservation actions among a diversity of conservation partners.
  • Prioritizes species by describing each species’ level of imperilment and applying a triage approach to consider what actions can be taken to address threats to a species and its habitats.

The Wildlife Action Plan can be viewed in PDF format (below), as well as through an interactive online version.

Download the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan

Virginia’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan is available below. It is separated into multiple sections as PDF files for easier review. The Introduction, Approach and Methods, and Statewide Overview provide background information, goals, approach and methods, plan structure, and summarized information at a statewide level. The remaining 21 chapters cover the local planning regions.

You may download the entire document or only those sections related to where you live or work (available below for download).