From the President
Southern Conservation Partners was established in late 2014 for purposes of filling perceived needs and gaps. We define the southern U.S. region (based on shared environmental and cultural characteristics) as including all of 12
states and parts of 10 other states, located south of Interstate hwy 70 on the northern boundary and east of Interstate highways 44 & 35 on the western boundary, and extending to the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, plus our Caribbean island U.S. territories. This region was never subject directly to glaciation and harbors much of the nation’s long-evolved biodiversity and unique ecological legacies. But the South, along with the western U.S., has
the highest rates of human population growth in the U.S. (around 14% in the past decade), and some of its states experienced population growths of nearly 20% in the 2000-2010 decade. That growth combined with economic changes and climate change effects are jeopardizing much of the South’s environmental assets and natural heritage. The majority of the nation’s most imperiled natural ecosystems are in located in the southern U.S.
Natural areas and wildlife contribute immensely to the region’s economy through public recreation and tourism. Rapid commercial and residential development across the region is dramatically reducing forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats that contribute to our region's ecosystem health and quality of life. While substantial progress was made in land and water resource conservation the southern U.S. over the past forty years, and especially in the period 1998-2008, the pace of conservation has substantially declined with the economic recession, pressure on government budgets, cutbacks to public conservation funding, and reduced tax credits for private land conservation. Threats to the South’s natural heritage are increasing, while governmental investment in its protection has diminished. It is clearly necessary to search for and implement more innovative, creative approaches to conserve and protect our region’s natural environment – demanding greater attention to building partnerships of efforts.
--Chuck Roe, President, Southern Conservation Partners