The objective of WHIP in Missouri is to maintain ecosystem diversity by improving habitats of reduced or declining wildlife populations within agricultural systems. The legislative emphasis behind WHIP is on natural systems diminished by agriculture and imperiled species associated with those systems. An ecosystem approach to conservation is justified for several reasons, including:
This approach recognizes the importance of both the biotic communities and the physical environments in which they exist.
Conserving ecosystems is an efficient way to maintain high species and genetic diversity.
Some types of structural and functional diversity are found only at the ecosystem level.
It should also be noted that maintaining self-sufficient islands of ecosystem types alone might not meet the needs of some wildlife species. The biodiversity and condition of the surrounding landscape will affect species richness in that geographical area.
Missouri NRCS plans to reach the above objective through the following:
Promote wildlife habitat on private lands through interagency cooperation and jointly sponsored program promotions.
Utilize the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)/NRCS Area Biologist, MDC Private Lands Conservationists, and MDC Foresters to assist in delivering WHIP in the Missouri NRCS Field Office Service Areas (FOSAs).
Develop a partnership program to coordinate information activities on WHIP.
Continue cross-training with MDC and NRCS staff on the inter-relationship of wildlife management and resource conservation planning.
Provide training on ecosystem composition, structure and function as they apply to the management of all lands.
Coordinate with MDC or NGOs such as Quail Unlimited (QU) to maximize the habitat benefits of federal WHIP dollars.
Select wildlife indicator species that will model habitat needs and effects of holistic resource management.
Explore the expansion of existing partnership and development of new partnerships to assist in the delivery of WHIP and other related wildlife programs. Current partnerships exist with MDC, Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
It is expected that by targeting the program to areas with on-going Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) program emphasis, the WHIP process should result in a 15 - 50% increase in habitat suitability indices on the acres treated for the wildlife indicator species. It is expected that WHIP will affect 20,000 acres annually.