Nebraska Game and Parks Commission



Date of this Version



The Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion Planning Team. January 2000. Conservation in a Highly Fragmented Landscape: The Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregional Conservation Plan. The Nature Conservancy. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 40 pp.


With the adoption of Conservation by Design in 1995, The Nature Conservancy recognized the importance of working at larger scales to achieve our mission which is: the long-term survival of all viable native species and community types through the design and conservation of portfolios of sites within ecoregions. The Conservancy set forth to design conservation plans on an ecoregional basis by working closely with various conservation partners. These plans are intended to provide a framework within which the Conservancy and our partners, such as the Natural Heritage Programs, can make decisions regarding conservation actions to be taken at the local level, confident in the knowledge that site by site activities in ecoregions are not isolated but part of a larger, coherent design.

The highly fragmented nature of the Central Tallgrass Prairie (CTP) Ecoregion presented certain challenges for the Planning Team and the conservation situation is desperate. The vast majority of the landscape has been converted to agricultural uses. Less than 5% of the ecoregion is considered “untilled” or “intact” from an ecological perspective. Few areas remain that retain some vestige of the natural communities that once dominated the landscape, and these remnants are typically under great stress either from adjacent incompatible land uses, invasive species, fire suppression, hydrologic alterations, or other threats. We cannot afford to lose any more of our natural heritage, and, in fact, there is a great need to restore some of the most severely damaged community types.The plan presents a framework for thinking about conservation in a fragmented landscape and offers some suggestions about how to proceed in the near term to move in the direction of successful biodiversity conservation. Through implementation we will learn more about how to restore natural functions to larger areas of the landscape. Future iterations of this plan will incorporate this knowledge and move us closer to achieving this mission.