SCCRCIS: Conservation Elements

Santa Cruz County RCIS – Conservation Elements

Conservation Elements are biological communities, species, and other aspects of the landscape analyzed in a RCIS. Both natural communities and focal species are conservation elements in the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation Investment Strategy (SCCRCIS).


A RCIS is intended to have two main types of “conservation elements” (i.e. focal species and other conservation elements),  that will benefit from conservation actions and habitat enhancement actions set forth in a RCIS.

The RCIS guidelines also allow identification of non-focal species: species associated with a focal species or other conservation elements and that will benefit from conservation actions and habitat enhancement actions set forth in a RCIS. Focal species, other conservation elements, and non-focal species, can all benefit through both conservation investments and mitigation credit agreements, many of which will also benefit other rare and locally unique species in Santa Cruz County (co-benefited species). 

SCCRCIS Approach to the Conservation Elements:

The SCCRCIS conservation elements include natural communities, other conservation elements, focal species, non-focal species, and co-benefited species. Section 2.5.2 of the DRAFT SCCRCIS discusses the rationale for their inclusion, and the selection criteria, and relates them to the categories identified in the RCIS Guidelines.

  • Other Conservation Elements: 14 natural community types were selected to develop a landscape-scale conservation strategy to support both rare and common species, biodiversity, and other conservation values. These are the core elements of the SCCRCIS. 
    • Focuses on conserving a broader suit of native species,
    • Provides ecological foundation for species conservation,
    • Promotes effectiveness of conservation strategies, and
    • Consistent with other conservation planning approaches
    • Habitat connectivity and working lands (i.e., timber, grazing, and cultivated lands) complement the communities-based approach to address other important facets within the landscape.
  • Focal Species: The 7 focal species identified meet the following CDFW criteria:
    • Listed species
    • Wide-ranging species
    • Climate-vulnerable species, and
    • Taxonomic representation
  • Non-focal species: Species that are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) or California Endangered Species Act (CESA), and whose conservation needs are addressed through conservation of natural communities, other conservation elements, and focal species.
  • Co-benefited species: Rare species that are not state or federally listed, but that may be recognized under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or other regulations as sensitive, were categorized in the SCCRCIS as co-benefited species: plants and animals that are not categorized as focal or non-focal but which will benefit from the conservation strategy.

Click here to review the DRAFT Santa Cruz County RCIS – Environmental Setting and Conservation Elements


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