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Great Lakes Inform is a free, online platform designed to increase the efficiency of regional conservation and resource management in the Great Lakes. Great Lakes Inform is a “first-stop” shop to find, share, and access information that helps you address key Great Lakes issues.

 

Services

Great Lakes Inform provides the following services.

  • See the big picture: Through the six modules and related content, see the context of each information product, including how it specifically supports a given management strategy and how it relates to other products.
  • Learn about Great Lakes ecology:  Access learning resources to gain ecological and resource management knowledge .
  • Share information: Registered users can share conservation actions and information products with the region.
  • Learn about collaborative strategies and regional goals: Read about management strategies and shared, regional goals for specific issues as drafted by collaborative groups focused on specific Great Lakes issues.
  • Track and report progress towards regional goals:  Visualize and contribute to tracking progress towards the regional, issue-specific goals drafted by the relevant collaboratives. 

If you are a member of a collaborative that addresses a specific conservation issue, or are interested in forming such a collaborative, visit the Connect and Contribute page to see how this site can assist you with information sharing and management. You can connect with the Great Lakes Inform team directly by contacting us here.

 

Site Design

Great Lakes Inform is specifically designed to meet the needs of resource managers, conservationists, and others involved in collaborative adaptive management in the Great Lakes region. The streamlined approach Great Lakes Inform takes to information management encourages breakthroughs in developing shared goals and collaborative solutions for solving landscape-scale issues. The site provides a space for basin-wide, issue-specific collaborative groups to share information about their focus issue, as well as share and track progress towards regional goals in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of conservation actions in the region. By sharing and tracking progress towards regional goals, Great Lakes Inform allows project managers to see how their projects contribute towards regional progress. For more information on the features on Great Lakes Inform, visit How to Use this Site.

 

Regional Context

Great Lakes Inform is responding to a call for improved and dedicated information management and delivery in the Great Lakes region. Across the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces of the Great Lakes basin, many organizations, agencies, and individuals are working to address challenging conservation problems on a variety of scales. Federal, state, and provincial agencies, along with local and municipal governments and non-profit organizations, are collectively investing hundreds of millions of dollars each year to conserve and restore the Great Lakes ecosystem. To successfully accomplish their objectives, these stakeholders must partner with one another while also considering multiple species, habitats, ecosystem processes, and socioeconomic values simultaneously. In response to this complexity, resource managers and conservation practitioners have developed and adopted management processes like ecosystem management, landscape conservation, and collaborative adaptive management to guide their regional work.

 

All of these management processes require a continuous supply of data and knowledge, accompanied by up-to-date information about progress towards regional goals. Measured individually and locally, many of the programs implemented are successful in addressing specific, small-scale issues. However, because these programs are initiated, funded, and measured by many different entities and on various scales, the Great Lakes region lacks a basin-wide view of the progress being made toward large-scale, overarching desired outcomes.

 

Historically, we have lacked the information infrastructure to facilitate tracking and reporting progress towards regional goals and to successfully address the fragmented development and dissemination of information.  Since 1985, many conservation-focused entities in the Great Lakes basin have identified the need for a system that supports information management and delivery. The Great Lakes Charter and its Annexes, the bi-national strategy for Lake Huron, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the Blue Accounting program have all called for increased investment in a technical system that facilitates collaboration and decision-making. Great Lakes Inform fills this gap between information development and information management to facilitate progress toward achieving landscape-scale conservation outcomes.