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Bridging the Gulf Between Science and Practice


Program Overview


The Metropolitan Conservation Alliance bridges the gulf between science and practice by developing innovative, locally-based strategies that tackle ecosystem loss and urban sprawl at the suburban/rural frontier.



Human settlements around the world are often located in biologically rich regions because civilizations thrive where there is an abundance of natural resources such as water, fertile soils, and food. Conservation efforts are especially challenging in these populated, biologically rich areas. There is much that is worth protecting; at the same time many land uses compete for resources. In such settings, conservation can only be achieved by working together-collaborating across political boundaries and establishing common goals among the many interest groups.



An expanding wave of poorly planned development known as sprawl, fostered by a lack of informed land-use decisions, threatens the rich biological heritage of many regions. Lack of communication between conservation scientists and land-use decision-makers has resulted in the destruction of wildlife habitats and the fragmentation of remaining habitat area into small, isolated, and often degraded patches, unable to support a diversity of wildlife and ecological services.



Addressing sprawl requires a multi-faceted approach. In the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance (MCA) "Biotic Corridor" approach, wildlife surveys are conducted in clusters of towns to determine where critical resources occur at a multi-town, landscape scale. Survey results become the baseline layer in the planning process and help to inform policy. Rather than using biological information to oppose development, it is used to guide development into more ecologically sensitive and sustainable directions. In this way, MCA Program seeks a balance between environmental and economic health.

MCA develops innovative conservation tools that respond to the needs of communities and decision-makers as they strive to integrate biodiversity information into the land-use planning process. Published in the MCA Technical Paper Series, these tools are developed in collaboration with land-use attorneys, biologists, developers, municipal officials, agency personnel, and university researchers. Collaboration is necessary to maximize the dissemination of these tools, so we develop partnerships with local land trusts, watershed organizations, conservation districts, and others.

Building bridges between science and practice requires more than just a transfer of information. It requires education, capacity-building, provision of technical support, collaboration with partner organizations, and a long-term rapport with land-use practitioners. The key ingredient of conservation is collaboration. By bridging gaps, strengthening communications, and integrating the needs of all parties, we can ensure that wildlife and the ecosystem that they depend upon in developing areas remain healthy, now and into the future.




In 2008 all the intellectual property rights of the MCA, including the copyrights and owernship of the MCA technical paper series, were transferred to Dr. Michael W. Klemens.  The Wildlife ConservationSociety and the Cary Institute are no longer associated with the MCA or its publication series.

   Not Available               A Tri-State Comparative Analysis of Local Land Use Authority: NY, NJ, & CT. MCA Technical

                                            Paper No. 1. 1999.

                                       Open Lands Acquisition: Local Financing Techniques Under New York State Law. MCA Technical

                                            Paper No. 2. 2000.


                                       Conservation Area Overlay District: A Model Local Law. MCA Technical Paper No. 3. 2002.


                                        Eastern Westchester Biotic Corridor. MCA Technical Paper No. 4. 2002.


                                        Eastern Westchester Biotic Corridor: Bedford Addendum. MCA Technical Paper No. 4-A. 2007.

                                        Eastern Westchester Biotic Corridor: Titicus Reservoir Addendum. MCA Technical Paper No. 4-B.



                                        Eastern Westchester Biotic Corridor, Northern Terminus Addendum. MCA Technical Paper No. 4-C.



                                        Habitat Management Guidelines for Vernal Pool Wildlife. MCA Technical Paper No. 6. 2004.

                                        Best Development Practices (BDPs): Conserving Pool-Breeding Amphibians in Residential and

                                             Commercial Developments in the Northeastern United States. MCA Technical Paper No. 5. 2002.


                                        Croton-to-Highlands Biodiversity Plan: Balancing Development and the Environment in the

                                             Hudson River Estuary Catchment. MCA Technical Paper No. 7. 2004.

                                        Croton-to-Highlands Biodiversity Plan: Somers Addendum. MCA Technical Paper No. 7-A. 2007.

                                       Southern Wallkill Biodiversity Plan: Balancing Development and the Environment in the

                                            Hudson River Estuary Watershed. MCA Technical Paper No. 8. 2005.

                                        Biodiversity Conservation Through Local Land Use Planning: An Assessment of Needs and

                                             Opportunities in the New Jersey Townships of Chester, Lebanon, and Washington. MCA

                                             Technical Paper No. 9. 2005. 

                                        From Planning to Action: Biodiversity Conservation in Connecticut Towns. MCA Technical Paper No.

                                             10. 2006.

Available for Purchase

                                       The Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project: A Model for Intermunicipal Biodiversity Planning in

                                            Connecticut. MCA Technical Paper No. 11. 2006.  

                                      Pocantico Hills Biodiversity Plan, Rockefeller State Park Preserve and Associated Private Lands: A

                                           Public-Private Land Stewardship Initiative. MCA Technical Paper No. 12. 2006.

Not Available

                                       Northern Wallkill Biodiversity Plan: Balancing Development and Environmental Stewardship in the

                                            Hudson River Estuary Watershed. MCA Technical Paper No.13. 2007.

                                       North Castle Biodiversity Plan. MCA Technical Paper No. 14. 2007.

                                      Haines Pond Biodiversity Study. MCA Technical Paper No. 15. 2009.

                                      Haines Pond Management Plan. MCA Technical Paper No. 15-A. 2010.

                                     Town of Barkhamsted: Amphibian and Reptile Biodiversity Study. MCA Technical Paper No.16. 2011.

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