As you may know, the Conservation Registry went live in 2008 as a pilot project in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. At the time, we added map overlays, species lists and conservation plans for all fifty U.S. states, just in case people in other states wanted to use the Registry. But almost as soon as the first project popped up in Hawaii, folks started adding projects in Canada too.
We welcomed Canadian and Mexican projects, but we knew that the Registry wasn’t set up to serve conservation activities in those countries. For instance, the Registry wasn’t designed to look for Canadian provinces or Mexican states, and the only currency the Registry captures is the U.S. dollar. Project detail pages from those projects show empty spaces for county and watersheds, and still show spaces for regions that don’t exist in other nations, such as Congressional districts and USFWS regions.
Yet despite the U.S.-centric focus, the Registry now contains over 150 Canadian and Mexican on-the-ground conservation projects.
To help our North American partners, we discussed what it would take to adapt the Registry to load Canadian and Mexican map overlays so that project detail pages would record the country and province of origin. But then we realized that it wasn’t just our immediate neighbors anymore—Registry users were adding projects in countries all over the world.
Many international projects were entered by portal owner, Wildlife Habitat Council. WHC works with corporations and other landowners to create voluntary wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education programs on corporate facilities and in the communities where they operate, and indeed, they have projects all over the world. In the last two months they’ve added nearly twenty new international projects to the Registry in areas as diverse as Luxembourg, Scotland, Russia, Brazil, and Africa.
So Registry staff asked Margaret O’Gorman, president of the Wildlife Habitat Council why they chose to add their international projects to a site designed for U.S. projects:
“Being able to add our international projects to the Conservation Registry allows us to better collaborate, to work on the landscape level and deliver appropriate conservation across borders and even continents,” said Ms. O’Gorman. “For the first time, WHC project managers in every country can see the conservation context in which their efforts exist. Having all of our certified programs on one portal allows us to manage our data more efficiently and promote the great work of our members through one convenient tool.””
Should the Registry change in order to track these new project locations?
Here are some suggestions for updates from Wildlife Habitat Council staffer Corinne Lackner Stephens:
- Show international and specific-country regions clickable as a map layer.
- Add International Union for Conservation of Nature and United Nations data as map layers.
- Project detail pages should show country of project origin, watershed information where available, and name of closest city.
- Suppress the word “undefined” and/or the U.S.-specific fields that are blank (like Congressional district and bird region) on international projects.
- In Advanced Search, add country as a searchable field.
- On the main Conservation Registry page add a search box to make it easy to search for projects by country.
- On portals with international projects, list the countries and create quick searches that take users directly to those projects.
- On the main Browse by Map page, show the map zoomed out to the entire world instead of just North America.
You can help
So let’s talk about the international expansion of the Conservation Registry. What map layers would you like to see? How should we address different kinds of currency when reporting on financial support? Should we convert to U.S. dollars or leave the funds in the original currency? How important is it to track financial data at all? What government administrative level is most important to map? Country? State? County? Do we want to attempt to add all endangered species in the world to the species picklist?