The Practitioners’ Network for Large Landscape Conservation is holding a major conference on large landscape conservation October 23 – 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The two-day event will focus on knowledge-building and knowledge-sharing to address the challenges and opportunities of the future of large landscape conservation.
In a testimony given in May to a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, 87 conservation, forestry, and recreation organizations urged lawmakers to invest in the health of New England’s forests. The organizations and businesses, joining together in the informal collaborative, the New England Forest Policy Group, requested full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million and called for robust funding for a number programs particularly vital for the long-term health of our region’s natural resources and human communities.
The importance of working across state and town lines to identify land conservation opportunities was highlighted by Bob Eckenrode, president of Newtown Forest Association, in a presentation on the Fairfield County Regional Conservation Partnership (FCRCP) at the Connecticut Land Conservation Conference March 15.
The President’s Budget for FY 2015 was released March 4 with excellent news for conservation – full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has funded critical land and water conservation projects for the past 50 years in New England and across the country. The LWCF has been chronically shortchanged by Congressional budgets even though the program is authorized at $900 million per year from offshore oil and gas drilling revenues, not taxpayer dollars.
In a time of dwindling federal budgets and ongoing Congressional paralysis, it is more important than ever for New England groups to work together to make sure conservation dollars continue to flow to our region. In December, more than 50 conservation groups and forestry businesses wrote to the New England Congressional Delegation with specific budget recommendations for the most critical conservation programs that protect our irreplaceable lands and waters.
In the first keynote presentation at a Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP) Network Gathering, Dr. Gary Tabor of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation encouraged practitioners to stay ahead of conservation challenges. The noted champion of large-scale landscape conservation emphasized the evolving role of and need for conservation across boundaries, grounding his talk in the work of initiatives like Wildlands and Woodlands.
In 2013, W&W Partner Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution have released a groundbreaking study called Changes to the Land: Four Scenarios for the Future of the Massachusetts Landscape indicating that recent trends in Massachusetts forest loss, if they continue on their present course, will undermine previous conservation gains, harm water quality, and limit landscape protection against climate change.