Center tackles ongoing conservation challenges

Virginia Tech's Conservation Management Institute (CMI), a center within the College of Natural Resources, is helping conserve natural resources around the world by providing research and development services to natural resource agencies and organizations. 

   

A team of researchers evaluates nightvision equipment Nightvision technology is incorporated into a research tool for some conservation efforts.

The collaborative efforts of Virginia Tech and other research institutions couple technology integration and support to assist with projects ranging from work to help save endangered species to vegetation mapping.

Technology Integration and Support

CMI develops and evaluates new technology solutions for its partners. Students and faculty work with CMI staff on projects that lead to new ways of collecting, processing, evaluating, packaging, and delivering information.

   

A group of students listens to a wildlife presentation

It provides support to organizations that work to help restore land, recover biodiversity, and teach communities how to dramatically improve environmental protection status. They are also able to take inventory of and monitor resources, prepare management plans, and train staff in important new techniques.

Virginia Tech faculty and students are able to participate in the design and implementation of various projects, allowing students to gain professional experience. Faculty members benefit, too. They gain access to expanded capabilities—both technical and managerial—making their proposals more efficient to administer and more likely to be funded.

Initiatives

Exploring renewable energy: CMI encourages developers, landowners, and agency representatives to support a biomass energy industry in Virginia that relies on dedicated herbaceous energy crops like switchgrass and other similar grasses.

These high-energy grasses can be the feedstock for

  • heating;
  • electricity;
  • transportation fuel applications;
  • providing the added benefits of reducing siltation, which occurs when top soil runs off and causes problems with things such as water quality and fish habitat;
  • rebuilding soils;
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • providing critically needed wildlife habitat.
   

A tiger heron sitting in a tree in Belize

Additionally, the center sponsors coordination meetings and landowner outreach programs that make available technology and techniques that will help the new industry to expand in Virginia.

Teaming up for wildlife : CMI recently entered into a partnership with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF). Their partnership is designed to help expand capacity to perform conservation projects. It will also assist CMI in engaging the public for environmental education, landowner outreach, land restoration, and wildlife and fish conservation.

   

A roosting red bat

CMI and WBWF are participating in a stream restoration project in Franklin County, Va., that involves removing a dam. They are also providing natural resources mentoring to support young people considering a career in natural resources.

Saving bats: In response to declining populations of many bat species, CMI has established a new approach to monitoring and taking inventory of bats. The new techniques are aimed at helping natural resource agencies better manage and recover bat populations.

The newly available technology for identifying and counting bats relies on new physical sampling techniques and the use of sophisticated acoustic monitoring and data filtering that will permit the low-cost collection and analysis of data.

Resolving conflict: CMI and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences are collaborating to establish the Virginia Tech Center for Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution.

This new center will use education, research, and outreach to help address costly conflicts that arise between the humans and area wildlife of rural areas as they become more developed.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Lynn Davis at davisl@vt.edu or (540) 231-6157.

CMI divisions

  • Field Ecology Division (FED) organizes the field expertise that exists across all of CMI's divisions to address the diverse field data needs of various sponsors and projects.
  • Human Dimensions Division explores the relationship between natural resources and the people who use them to improve conservation decision-making capabilities.
  • Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange Division (FWIE) helps agencies and organizations to better manage their information resources to more effectively conserve wildlife, plants, and natural communities.
  • International Projects Division provides training and expertise to governments and nongovernmental organizations in the areas of fisheries development, nontimber forest products, information management, ecological monitoring and evaluation, natural resources management, and planning.
  • Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing Division provides assistance to natural resource agencies for vegetation mapping, field support, and other information gathering activities.
  • Military Lands Division helps provide natural and cultural resource research and support for United States military installations worldwide.

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