Harvard Center for the Environment
March 17, 2017
Conservation finance is becoming one of the most exciting domains of innovative and strategic thinking and planning to address the conservation challenges and opportunities of our time. The 2017 New England Conservation Finance Roundtable brought together over 40 influential regional and national thinkers representing NGOs, foundations, investment advisors, state and federal agencies, universities and landowners to exchange ideas and explore new strategies to confront a troubling upward trend in forest and farmland conversion to development coupled with slowing rates of land protection. The 2017 Roundtable builds on past work by conservation finance experts convened by the W&W Conservation Finance Group in 2010 to focus on a regional and comprehensive approach to furthering land conservation goals.
The goal of this roundtable was to capitalize on the region’s conservation capacity and the evolving national conservation finance dialogue by focusing on developing strategies that will: (1) accelerate the protection of forest and water resources, (2) incentivize sustainable production of food and fiber, (3) mitigate impacts from climate change, and (4) improve public health and rural economies.
The overarching themes embraced by this gathering –natural infrastructure investments; new public finance programs; healthy communities, healthy people; and working lands investments— were presented in the form of case studies and pitches to develop or cultivate focused effort on new mechanisms for advancing land conservation, followed by reflection, group discussion, and a “conservation hackathon” to brainstorm actionable ways to advance the most innovative and feasible options.
Highstead and Harvard Forest are now committed to working with our Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative partners to develop a selection of promising strategies—focused on both public and private finance—to inspire strong public support for land conservation, while incubating new public private conservation partnerships.
Spencer Meyer, Senior Conservationist, Highstead
James Levitt, Director of Conservation Innovation
David Foster, Director, Harvard Forest