W&W Conservation Finance Roundtable and the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation
In 2010, W&W partners, with the leadership of Jim Levitt of the Harvard Program on Conservation Innovation, held a W&W roundtable of regional conservation finance experts focused on funding future conservation across the region. This inspired the Massachusetts legislature to establish a Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation.
On February 13, 2012, forest and conservation leaders joined Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. and state legislators at the State House in Boston to celebrate the completion of the commission’s innovative report.
Chaired by Leigh Youngblood of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust and staffed by Jim Levitt, the Commission’s report emphasizes four key conservation finance themes: aggregation for conservation, mitigation for conservation, compact land development, and targeted forest-based economic development.
The detailed report built on recent advances that help make Massachusetts a national leader in conservation finance, including: (1) the Patrick administration’s commitment to fund $45-50 million of land conservation annually; (2) natural resource protection zoning recently adopted by several MA towns; (3) a conservation tax credit program that provides financial incentives to landowners who donate conservation land to a municipality, the state, or a nonprofit conservation organization; and (4) a Landscape Partnership Program that funds land conservation projects that aggregate or bundle many individual parcels together into larger deals. These different efforts help advance — and were in part inspired by — the Wildlands and Woodlands vision.
Greater Quabbin Conservation Investment Zone Assessment (CIZA) Project
The Greater Quabbin Conservation Investment Zone Assessment Project began in 2012 as a pilot initiative to advance the four recommendations of the Massachusetts Commission on Financing Forest Conservation: aggregation for conservation, mitigation for conservation, compact land development, and targeted forest-based economic development.
Funded through a Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust grant, the June 2013 report is the result of a year of research and dialogue among a diverse group of local conservationists, business owners, community leaders, and state and local officials.
The group considered the joint challenges of land conservation and sustainable development in an area reaching from the Nashua River in the east to the Connecticut River in the west, generally north of Massachusetts Route 9. The promising conclusions can be used as a model for other areas across the New England region.
Conservation Finance Network
The W&W Conservation Finance Group works with a growing community of conservation finance practitioners in the United States and around the world, sharing innovative finance mechanisms for funding land protection and applying them in ways that will conserve more land more effectively. Housed at Island Press, the Conservation Finance Network is focused on connecting these practitioners and resources more effectively and offers a 5-day conservation finance workshop each June. To get involved: http://conservationfinancenetwork.org.