Examples from my personal career include North Carolina’s informal coalition of public and private land and wildlife conservation organizations in the 1980s that formulated and implemented strategies resulting in protection of many dozens of natural areas, wildlife refuges, and parks across that state; formation of the statewide North Carolina coalition and network of private land trusts in the 1990s, which coordinated and orchestrated efforts to protect (and secured public funding sources for protecting) many more of that state’s most treasured and important natural places and ecological assets; and establishment, largely in the first decade of the 2000s, of similar coalitions of private land conservancies and allied public agencies across the southeastern U.S., from Virginia to Florida, from Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico coastal region.
A basic precept I learned long ago and repeatedly experienced during my forty-year career in land and biodiversity conservation in North Carolina and the southern U.S. confirms that most conservation successes are the result of committed leadership combined with collaborative partnerships among private organizations and public agencies that recognize shared goals and mutual benefits. Seldom have I witnessed a major success in environmental resource conservation that was not achieved through the advocacy of a few dedicated, individual leaders in combination with the support of a coalition of private and public agencies who share a sense of common purpose and mutually held goals. Most successful leaders recognize the power of collaboration and partnership.
But whereas there have been numerous examples of collaborative partnerships among land OR water OR wildlife conservation organizations, coalitions of shared interests across artificial dividing lines between land/water/wildlife conservation have been slower to develop. . . .
Over 70 years ago, Aldo Leopold wrote, "Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land." That unfolding continues in our work.
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