Approximately 150 conservation professionals from across New England and eastern New York met in New Hampshire to share strategies on how to advance collaborative conservation throughout the region. The 2014 Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP) Network Gathering brought together leaders from the academic, state and federal agency, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors.
While the daylong conference celebrated conservation successes, there was a resounding call to action to conserve more land faster before our invaluable natural resources are lost forever.
“The pace of conservation is still too slow,” said Prentice Zinn. Director of GMA Foundations and administrator of the Jessie B. Cox Trust. “Our collective vision for conservation is still not big enough. The goal of the Cox Trust is to spin the wheel a lot faster.”
During the plenary panel Zinn announced a groundbreaking new $1 million grant program from the Jessie B. Cox trust that will help grow the RCP Network and increase land protection throughout New England. Click here for more information about the grant program. The foundation has provided critical funding to New England land conservation for 30 years but will close it doors in 2018. This RCP Innovation Grant Program will represent its final legacy gift to help accelerate and achieve regional land conservation for the many generations that follow.
A new network aimed at partnering with academic organizations to increase conservation was also announced at the event. Academics for Land Protection in New England (ALPINE) will work to harness the power of these institutions and the 1.2 million students across the region to protect natural resources and increase the collective knowledge of the conservation community.
“We’re trying to link knowledge to action,” said Rob Lilieholm, of the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, University of Maine and plenary panel speaker. “Academia represents a huge and largely untapped enduring resource that can link research, students, communities, and RCPs.”
Stephanie Cooper, Assistant Secretary for Land & Forest Conservation at Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Ken Elowe, Assistant Regional Director of Science Applications of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region also spoke on the plenary panel and emphasized the important role that state and federal agencies play in working with the non-profit community to achieve effective regional conservation while we still have the chance.
“This conference is all about partnering across geographies and sectors to save the New England landscape that is the lifeblood of our communities today and in the future,” according to Highstead Conservation Director Emily Bateson. “Highstead believes that we must double the pace of current conservation to outpace development and conserve New England for future generations.”
“Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) are people like you and me, fighting to save the natural heritage of their own communities, but also working across borders to conserve at the larger landscape scale. This is the future of successful conservation in New England.”