The Open Space Council Blog


Not Only Do We Believe in Science, We are Expanding it

May 5, 2017


The Open Space Council is launching an update of the Conservation Lands Network, but we’re doing more than updating it. We are expanding the science and data that goes into the network, and we are expanding the number of people and organizations who use and depend on the CLN’s outputs. We’re calling this more-than-just-an-update project the CLN Science Expansion. And we’re excited to tell you all about it.

First, what is the Conservation Lands Network?

The Conservation Lands Network is a regional prioritization of lands that are important for the protection of biodiversity. Publicly available at, it is used by land conservation organizations, municipal planners, funding entities, and regional planning efforts. The CLN, initially released in 2011 after a 5-year process with involvement from 125 organizations and agencies, sets conservation priorities for the nine counties of the Bay Area plus Santa Cruz County.

What’s happening now?

Over the next two years, the Bay Area Open Space Council will lead an update and expansion of the science behind the Conservation Lands Network. We’re calling it the CLN Science Expansion.

Why now?

There are a handful of reasons we’re doing this now: the landscape of protected lands has grown since the first version in 2011, there are new environmental datasets that can be included, and there are new policies and regional priorities with which we need to integrate.

The most important reason is that we need to make biodiversity protection – and its co-benefits – a priority for the region’s planning efforts, funding, and legislation.

How’s this going to happen?

We are going to:

1.     Aggregate and analyze the best scientific data

2.     Involve the leading academics and practitioners in land conservation today

3.     Develop and disseminate our findings in ways that a wide audience can understand and use

The Open Space Council will facilitate an inclusive and transparent process to update and expand the science used in the CLN. The process – called CLN Science Expansion for short – will be inclusive by involving dozens of planners, biologists, ecologists, and natural resource managers from the 10 counties of the greater Bay Area. The process will be transparent so that at any time anyone can know what is happening, who is involved, and what will happen next. Our website – – will house all kinds of related information about this effort. We will also send out updates here, via the Open Space Blog.

Who’s the project team?

The project is being led by Tom Robinson, Director of Conservation, Science, and Innovation at the Open Space Council. He can be reached at [email protected]. Angel Hertslet, [email protected], is serving as Project Manager. And Dr. Stu Weiss, [email protected], is serving as the Science Advisor, just as he did for the original release of the CLN in 2005-2011. The Steering Committee and Focus Teams are being assembled now. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Who can we thank for supporting this project?

Funding for the Science Expansion process has been generously provided by the California Coastal Conservancy and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.