Why a Conservation Plan?

A well-designed conservation plan can ensure that limited resources are used efficiently to protect and restore ecologically important places. Until recently, however, there was no comprehensive plan to guide thornforest conservation across all land ownerships in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

To address this shortfall, American Forests and the Thornforest Conservation Partnership launched the Thornforest Conservation Plan in 2020. The plan identifies core areas of existing thornforest habitat, potential corridors that link these habitats together and habitat restoration opportunities throughout the Rio Grande Valley and neighboring areas. This plan aims to spark a coordinated, regional response to conserving these rare landscapes.

American Forests is also crafting a business plan to complement the conservation plan. The business plan will lay out funding strategies and objectives, and define priority reforestation projects across the Rio Grande Valley.

A Corridor for Rare Cats

The ultimate goal of the Thornforest Conservation Plan is to reforest areas between existing patches of thornforest. These forested corridors will help rare wildlife, most notably ocelots, travel more freely and safely in search of food and mates.

Ocelots, which look like miniature jaguars, are critically endangered in the United States. There are only about 80 remaining in the country, and they all live in just a few small, scattered forests in the Rio Grande Valley. Because of this, they are forced to move through busy urban areas, and many are killed by vehicles.

Creating wildlife corridors will also help other animals, including chachalacas, green jays and rare Texas tortoises.

About the Thornforest Conservation Partnership

American Forests formed the Thornforest Conservation Partnership in 2018. The partnership develops science-based conservation plans and goals for the entire Rio Grande Valley, educates the public about the importance of thornforests and encourages action for stronger public policies and funding. The Thornforest Conservation Partnership is a coalition of state and federal agencies, universities, nonprofits and community organizations.