In an age of rapid social, political and economic changes, the permanent nature of land conservation is reassuring. But protecting land through conservation easements or outright ownership by land trusts is only the first step in what will be perpetual stewardship. The pressures on conserved land are legion. Our population will increase by 100 million in 50 years, and the attendant development pressures, rising value, and degradation of natural resources of undeveloped land will skyrocket – especially in locations close to metropolitan centers where the majority of people will be living.
Several land trusts, however, are taking bold action to guarantee the long term viability of their organizations and their work. Looking out over the varied and shifting landscape of our population, boards and staffs are reaching out and collaborating with non-traditional partners and achieving some outstanding results. As we collectively realize that the future of voluntary land conservation depends on our ability to connect with existing communities, such innovative partnerships are increasingly important. To ensure the permanence of our land conservation, we need broad and deep support in communities nationwide.
The pioneer land trusts profiled here are demonstrating to their communities the relevance of land conservation to issues as diverse as climate change and childhood obesity. Reaching out to previously untapped groups and individuals, the work done by these land trusts represents the essence of ‘inclusive conservation,’ and provides inspiration to others for ensuring the long-term sustainability of land conservation.
- Engaging New Audiences: Colorado Conservation Trust
- A Converging Current of Conservation: Great Rivers Land Trust
- The Conservation and Diversity Program: Conservation Trust for North Carolina
- From Acorns to Oaks: Shirley Heinze Land Trust
- Conservation, Affordable Housing and Community Gardens: Athens Land Trust