Connecting Wildlands
& Communities

About the Project

The Connecting Wildlands & Communities (CWC) project, funded by the California State Strategic Growth Council through the California Climate Investments initiative, is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Ecological Monitoring and Management (IEMM) at San Diego State University and the Climate Science Alliance. The CWC project brings together an interdisciplinary team of planners, environmental engineers, ecologists, and geographers to explore how connected landscapes can support adaptation and resilience to climate change for both ecosystems and local communities in southern California. This project takes a comprehensive planning approach to meet State objectives on protecting rural communities, mitigating wildfire risk, supporting water sustainability, and protecting biodiversity. The goal of this research is to provide an integrated planning and decision-making framework that supports multi-benefit landscape-scale planning and facilitates science-informed climate adaptation and strategies across the region.


While our formal feedback period for the initiation phase of the project has ended, if you'd like to share something or communicate with us, please contact us here:

Project Informational Video

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Project One-Pager


Project Infographic

Project History

The Connecting Wildlands & Communities project builds on the Climate Resilient Connectivity project, a 2.5 year project that has developed landscape maps to support connectivity of natural lands across the South Coast Ecoregion.

Climate Art Fellowship

The Connecting Wildlands & Communities Team, in partnership with the Climate Science Alliance, was excited to host Kim Reasor as our 2020 Climate Art Fellow to translate the themes and results of this work into an art series, "Connected Lands. Connected People."

Regional Planning Survey

In early 2020, the CWC team requested input from planners in our region about how they currently integrate data into their planning practices and what data or visualization tools they are familiar with or currently use. This anonymous survey provided valuable information for the CWC project teams as they build and finalize deliverables for planners in our region to utilize.

The survey results have been compiled into 6 different feedback themes: Water sustainability, wildfire impacts, biodiversity protection, carbon sequestration, planning practices, and collaboration with Tribal representatives.


Virtual Town Hall

The Connecting Wildlands and Communities team convened a Virtual Town Hall on April 24th, 2020 as an opportunity to share project updates and gather input from stakeholders across the region that will help guide future planning and decision-making. This town hall builds off numerous in person convenings for partners across the region in 2019.

Virtual Town Hall

The Virtual Town Hall brought together over 120 diverse stakeholders from across the region, state, and nation, including jurisdictional planners from the local and state levels, Tribal representatives, researchers, conservationists, land managers, nonprofit organizations, educators, and artists. Hosted via webinar, the virtual event featured discussion with project lead Dr. Megan Jennings, live Q/A, and interactive online polling, allowing for participants to share their ideas and comments, get updates on the project, preview early results of the research, and learn about next steps planned for the coming year.

Most questions were answered live during the Town Hall. If we did not have time to answer your question, you can view our response to all unanswered questions here:

Watershed Selection

The Connecting Wildlands and Communities project has finalized the selection of watersheds that will make up the primary study area for the project. The refined list of 55 watersheds prioritizes areas of focus based on project goals and stakeholder feedback.

Watersheds shown in darker blue indicate where enhanced water data will be available. Click "View Larger Map" to see more detail and then click on each watershed to see more information.

Stakeholder Feedback

In three interactive feedback meetings and through an online feedback survey, we received input on all aspects of the CWC project. In general, stakeholders told us they were most interested in seeing the results of this project in the form of geospatial layers, a tool for data visualization and decision support, case studies, and webinars. More specifically, we got the following feedback for each topic area:


Project Objectives

I. Engagement

To engage with partners and stakeholders across the region to support climate resilient ecosystem and community planning and implementation.

II. Wildfire Assessment

To assess the implications of connected landscapes on wildfire risks and patterns and recovery after wildfire impacts to ecosystems and communities.

III. Watershed Assessment

To evaluate the impact of connected landscapes on hydrologic regimes as it relates to water quality, quantity, and sustainability for ecosystems and communities. 

IV. Biodiversity Assessment

To consider how connected landscapes will serve to protect plant and wildlife populations, habitats, and climate refugia over the long-term.

V. Planning Integration

To deliver a suite of robust products and applications that reflect research outcomes and deploy a comprehensive outreach program that provides accessible, relevant, and data-driven products and decision-support tools to a diverse end-user community. 

VI. Outreach and Delivery

Establish an integrated planning framework that incorporates ecological connectivity, wildfire risk, and water sustainability into land management approaches, conservation planning, and land use strategies.

"What's exciting about this opportunity is that it builds on our connectivity research, while giving us an opportunity to leverage and partner with other areas of expertise and excellence on campus."

- Dr. Megan Jennings,
Research Lead

Project Partners and Sponsors

Connecting Wildlands and Communities is a three-year project funded by the California Strategic Growth Council as part of the California Climate Change Research program.

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The Climate Science Alliance Team acknowledges the Indigenous peoples on whose traditional territory we work. We honor the continued presence and resilience of Indigenous communities and nations today, and thank those we work with for your friendship and your good will in our efforts to collaborate.


The Climate Science Alliance is fiscally sponsored by the California Wildlife Foundation (Tax ID: 68-0234744).

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