For two days in May, leaders of 19 large landscape conservation initiatives joined 10 resource professionals and nine members of the Lincoln Institute’s executive committee on large landscape conservation to explore creating a network of practitioners working at the large landscape scale. The large landscape conservation initiatives represented at the meeting reflect the growing number and diversity of such efforts across North America, varying in geographic scale and distribution, the age of the initiative, focus on urban, suburban, or rural lands, and governance structure. At the same time, each initiative exhibited the hallmarks of large landscape conservation: a multi-jurisdictional, multi-sector, and multi-issue approach to addressing conservation challenges and opportunities.
Large landscape conservation leaders shared the experiences and lessons learned as well as future aspirations and needs of their initiatives, including Chicago Wilderness, Sierra Business Council, Cascade Agenda, Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, Ozark Partnership, Yellowstone to Yukon, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and Wildlands to Woodlands, among others. They also examined several existing networks, including the Land Trust Alliance, National Alliance of Heritage Areas, CAMNet, and the National Network of Forest Practitioners, and extracted relevant lessons from those networks.
At the end of the workshop, these leaders decided to create a new Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation and organized themselves into a coordinating committee and several working groups focused on capacity building, public policy, and networking. The group selected Lynn Scarlett, former acting secretary of the Interior and current fellow at Resources for the Future, and Bob Bendick, director of U.S. government relations for The Nature Conservancy, as co-chairs of the coordinating committee, which has developed a draft charter and draft work plan to guide the network moving forward. Additionally, the network is finalizing a working paper that analyzes how the upcoming farm bill reauthorization may present opportunities to assist large landscape conservation initiatives in meeting their objectives.
The goal is to engage colleagues in large landscape conservation initiatives throughout North America in the network, and plans are underway for a Web site and a seminar introducing the idea at the Land Trust Alliance Rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in October.
Just over 20 years ago, Boston attorney Kingsbury Browne, while a fellow at the Lincoln Institute, recognized the need to provide technical support for the growing conservation land trust movement. His efforts led to the creation of the Land Trust Exchange in 1982, which subsequently became the Land Trust Alliance, now numbering over 1,500 land trusts across the U.S. “With the launch of this new network, we are in a similar position to advance the important new field of large landscape conservation,” said senior fellow Armando Carbonell, chair of the Department of Planning and Urban Form, who helped organize the workshop with Lincoln Institute fellow James Levitt and Matthew McKinney of the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana.
For more information on the Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation, contact Shawn Johnson at the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy (firstname.lastname@example.org). More information is also available in the Lincoln Institute’s Policy Focus Report, Large Landscape Conservation: A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action, and a paper by Jamie Williams, Large Landscape Conservation: A View from the Field.