Allies & Affiliated Partner Organizations
Connecting across boundaries, partnerships inspire innovation. Below we identify allied organizations (mostly private, nongovernmental) that are either service centers or alliances bridging multiple states and that offer help in protecting important environmental resources.
The following links drop you down to categories of partnerships--
Land & Forest Conservation; Water Protection:
American Forest Foundation (www.forestfoundation.org ) unites and informs owners of privately held forestlands to keep forests healthy and to educate the next generation to be prepared for conserving and protecting America's forests and ecological resources. AFF believes that family forest owners --the largest group of forestland holders in the U.S. (22 million families own nearly 282 million acres of forestland nationwide)--are key to protecting the values and benefits coming from well-managed forests. AFF supplies helpful guidance to private forestland owners and operates a FREE web-based resource for forestland owners who want to apply good forest, land, water, and wildlife conservation practices on their property. AFF also promotes Project Learning Tree and other youth environmental education programs.
American Rivers (www.AmericanRivers.org) is a national river conservation and public policy advocacy organization with staff positioned across the South. It works to restore healthy rivers, ensure clean drinking water supplies, revitalize fish and other aquatic wildlife habitats, improve water-based recreation, lead local campaigns to clean waterways, identify America's most endangered rivers, improve community flood protection, create river "blue trails," save remaining wild, scenic and free-flowing rivers, remove unnecessary dams, and leave a legacy of healthy rivers for future generations. Four of the 10 most endangered rivers currently identified by American Rivers are located in the southern U.S.: the Holston River (VA/TN), Harpeth River (TN), Edisto River (SC), and Pearl River (MS).
Appalachian Trail: a landscape conservation approach
The nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service are focused on conserving the broader landscapes of the Appalachian Mountains associated with the iconic Appalachian Trail. Although the AT footpath, stretching 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, is protected, many sections of its buffer are only 1,000 feet wide or less. This new effort would protect the broader ecological, cultural, and visual landscapes, conserving a treasured recreational experience, connecting the cultures of the eastern United States, north and south, and providing a critical ecological corridor while we still have time. Read more.
The Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership received a major grant to work with communities to protect the lands, waters, and unique cultural features of the landscapes surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Read about the grant and learn more about the new Partnership in this video .
Chesapeake Bay Conservation Partnership
A partnership of over 90 agencies and nonprofits fosters collaborative action to conserve natural and cultural landscapes and safeguard a healthy environment and economy in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Partners work together across the watershed in 6 states and the District of Columbia to conserve and restore the health, heritage, natural assets, and economic value of this national treasure. The coalition has developed a shared conservation vision and priority system for the watershed. Read more here.
Forest Stewardship Guild
A national nonprofit association whose mission is to promote ecological forestry, or forest management that maintains or enhances the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems. More broadly, the Guild promotes wise forest stewardship. Current projects include:
Land Conservation Assistance Network, also known as LandCAN, and formerly the Resources First Foundation. LandCAN is changing its name as part of a deliberate strategy to emphasize the services, solutions, and tools provided for landowners, and energy conservation professionals and businesses dedicated to sustainable land conservation and management practices. LandCAN believes the future of our private lands across the 50 states is principally in the hands of private landowners and their advisors. LandCAN's goals are to assure the future of land conservation by helping landowners steward their lands, lakes, and rivers for conservation, endangered species support, sustainable agriculture and organic farming, and recreational tourism use. Read more here. (As part of its rebranding, the Conservation Tax Center is merging with LandCAN and all State Conservation Connections will become State LandCANs.)
Land Trust Alliance (www.landtrustalliance.org) promotes voluntary land conservation nationwide and works with more than 1,100 nonprofit, local, and regional member land conservation organizations (including nearly 200 operating in the southern states) by providing them with information, skills development, and resources needed to conserve land and connect more people to the land. The Land Trust Alliance wants to make land conservation relevant to more people; increase the rate of land conservation; empower land trusts to be more resilient to challenges; and make land conservation programs as rigorous as possible.
Network for Landscape Conservation is an alliance of interests to conserve important natural and cultural landscapes. Its website and e/newsletters are fine resources to learn more about landscape conservation across North America, the broad diversity of landscapes, issues, and people involved, as well as challenges, successes, and other stories on the land. Landscape conservation is about listening to other people...about sparking genuine collaboration that builds trust and civility...about leveraging the explosion of data and science...about capturing the stories of the land and its people.
The Network for Landscape Conservation just issued a new report: Pathways Forward: Progress and Priorities in Landscape Conservation. Successful approaches in landscape-scale conservation highlighted in the report from the southern states include the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Florida Wildlife Corridor, and Southern Appalachian and Southern Cumberland Plateau.
The report focuses on two questions:
Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation. This coalition of 23 nonprofit land conservation partner groups focused on environmental resource protection in the coastal region of the five states along the Gulf of Mexico was organized by the Land Trust Alliance in May 2011 with the hiring of two project co-coordinators - Elizabeth Barber and Julia Weaver. Over the past seven years, the partner organizations of the Gulf Partnership have increased the pace, quality, and permanence of land and water conservation across the region. The Gulf Partnership provides matching grants to its partner organizations through a Project Assistance Fund. The partners have invested over $226,000 in Project Assistance Funds to attract $53 million in land conservation investments, protecting more than 20,000 acres of coastal habitat. See a more extensive description on the Featured Partnership sidebar of this web page. The Gulf Partnership's WEBSITE makes it easy for anyone interested in protecting land and water resources in the Gulf Coast region to learn about the coalition's capacity building, communications, and advocacy programs.
Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation (www.pfsfc.org) is a coalition of more than 30 public and private organizations working to retain and increase large blocks of working forest in the South. A key goal of the Partnership is to work with Timber Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to better understand partnership opportunities with these entities. Partnership projects include:
* Gulf Forestry/Deepwater Horizon Settlement
* Lower Mississippi River Restoration
Rewilding Institute (www.rewilding.org) champions restoring and reconnecting natural landscapes and wildlife migration corridors. Visit its film "Healing Nature's Wounds" at https://rewilding.org/healing-natures-wounds/ .
River Network (www.rivernetwork.org) , a national river conservation organization with staff throughout the South, serves as a champion for clean and ample water, with the goal to protect and restore rivers and life-sustaining waters across America. It builds coalitions, organizational strength, and leadership among 2,000 local partner groups working to protect rivers and watersheds nationwide. The River Network's "2016 Trends Report on Our Water Our Future" includes important information about the diversity of the river and watershed community in the United States. The report stresses the need for river and watershed protection efforts to reflect the interests and the diversity of the communities being served. River Network recognizes that climate change is impacting rivers and the human communities living on rivers. River protection groups are partnering with vulnerable communities to reduce risks, build resiliency, and cope and adapt with flooding and other negative impacts. Read more here.
River Network's Drinking Water Guide is a fine resource to learn about drinking water, its sources and systems, how to ensure safe-clean-affordable-available drinking water, and how climate change affects our water.
Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (www.southeastaquatics.net) focuses on issues concerning management of threatened aquatic resources in the region (34 percent of fish species and 90 percent of native mussel species in the southeastern U.S. are designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern). SARP was founded to be a catalyst and partners with others to protect, conserve, and restore aquatic resources and habitats in 14 states.
Southeastern Partnership for Forests and Water (southeasternpartnership.org) is a collaborative effort to enhance forested watershed protection that benefits public water and local economies in the southeastern U.S. Its mission is to ensure healthy southeastern forested watersheds that provide safe, reliable drinking water through strong partnerships, collaboration, funding, and action. This project is jointly funded by the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities and by the US Forest Service. Goals include developing cooperative relationships among state and local agencies, forestry and conservation organizations, and other river and watershed protection associations to design pilot projects and funding to implement creative protection strategies in high priority watersheds.
The 500-Year Forest Foundation (www.500yearforest.org ) is a Virginia-focused model that can be adopted by other forestland conservation organizations across the region interested in expanding landowner recognition and assistance programs. This nonprofit group provides a combination of technical and financial assistance to private owners of older-growth forests to assist them with forest stewardship and eradication of invasive plants. The Foundation enters into management cooperative agreements with owners, under permanent conservation easements and uses private grant funds to provide annual matching grants to member forest owners. The Foundation also encourages "forests as laboratories" projects and works in collaboration with teams of volunteers, consultants, independent contractors, and interns.
US Endowment for Forestry and Communities (www.usendowment.org ) is a nonprofit, private organization based in Greenville, SC, dedicated to advancing the health, sustainability, and vitality of the nation's working forests and forest-reliant communities. The Endowment maintains the National Conservation Easement Database (www.conservationeasement.us )--a comprehensive overview of nearly 120,000 easements covering over 30 million acres nationwide.
Waterkeeper Alliance (www.waterkeeper.org ) is a worldwide alliance of over 240 affiliate local waterkeeper organizations (sometimes known as riverkeepers or baykeepers), including more than 50 in the southern U.S. The Alliance is dedicated to protecting water quality through science, community organizing, and legal defense.
Water Protection Network (www.waterprotectionnetwork.org ) is a national coalition of over 240 organizations working to ensure that the nation's federal water projects and policies are environmentally and economically sound. The Network is managed by the National Wildlife Federation, and establishes a collaborative voice for reforming national water policies and to influence federally sponsored projects and permits at the local level. WPN offers its member groups a free weekly e-newsletter and eligibility for assistance grants.
World Wildlife Institute (www.WRI.org )is an international conservation organization providing many helpful resources for application in our region. Its publication on "Protecting Drinking Water Supplies at the Source" and review of collaborative investment strategies to protect watersheds is of great interest. WRI suggests that those concerned about assuring safe water supplies in the future can apply experiences and successful strategies drawn from 13 case examples from around the country (one of them in the southern U.S.--North Carolina's Upper Neuse River watershed protection partnership project). READ REPORT
Biodiversity & Wildlife Conservation:
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kentucky Ecological Services field office have worked together since 2008 to administer the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund (IBCF), one of the most unique and innovative partnerships in the nation. Since its inception, the IBCF has generated and invested over $36,000,000 in land acquisition, stewardship, research, and other activities. The fund uses a combination of grant, mitigation, and federal discretionary funding to focus resources on bat, forest, and at-risk terrestrial species conservation in Kentucky. IBCF was initially created to provide recovery-focused conservation for the federally endangered Indiana bat, but more recently, funding has been directed toward landscape-scale efforts that will benefit Indiana bats and the recently listed Northern long-eared bat through continued acquisition and protection of forested bat habitat, habitat management and improvement, and focused research and monitoring efforts. READ MORE.
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies: on landscape conservation collaboration
A working group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents North America’s state fish and wildlife agencies, in March 2018 released a white paper on landscape conservation collaboration. The report identifies key challenges and lessons learned for landscape conservation, and emerged from the AFWA working group that was convened to examine existing landscape partnerships and their governance structures, commonalities of success, approaches, partner roles and other attributes. READ MORE in this summary from the bi-monthly Landscape Conservation Bulletin.
Conservation Fisheries ( www.conservationfisheries.org ) is a Knoxville, TN, based nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the aquatic biodiversity of Southern Appalachia's streams. In its fish hatchery many imperiled species of native fish are being saved and propagated. Conservation Fisheries work has been the subject of numerous articles and documentary films. We recommend watching the beautiful and fascinating "Hidden Rivers of the Southern Appalachians" documentary film, recently produced by Freshwaters Illustrated. (Watch excerpt trailers The Hidden World of Native Fish and The Hidden World of River Mussels).
Discover Life In America (www.dlia.org) is a science and environmental education nonprofit organization focused on the ecosystems and biodiversity (estimated between 60-80,000 species of life) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas. It supports the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory research project, and hopes to expand this first-of-its-kind comprehensive, long-term biodiversity inventory to other biodiversity "hotspots."
Friends of Plant Conservation (www.ncplantfriends.org/) is a North Carolina nonprofit committed to increasing public awareness, understanding, and support of the state’s Plant Conservation Program (housed in the Plant Industry Dividion of the NC Department of Agriculture), whose mission is to protect the rare and native plant flora of the state, and to solicit, hold, and invest funds in support of plant conservation program activities in North Carolina.
Gulf Restoration Plan by National Audubon Society. In February 2019 the National Audubon Society released an extensive report titled "Audubon's Vision: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People," which recommends an investment of more than $1.7 billion in habitat restoration and conservation efforts. The report highlights projects and programs critical to helping the region and its wildlife recover from devastating hurricanes, oil spills, and other environmental and human-made disasters. According to Audubon CEO David Yarnold, "The challenges are huge, but we have an enormous opportunity to save much of the Gulf Coast for both birds and people. We can’t afford to blow this."
NatureServe (www.natureserve.org) represents a network of over 80 public and private natural heritage programs across the U.S. and leads efforts to provide scientific information, data and maps, tools and expertise to guide effective conservation actions and land use decisions to protect native animals, plants, and habitats. NatureServe is principal manager of the LandScope public database and tool for ecosystem-based conservation planning. It produces the NatureServe Explorer, an online encyclopedia of life, which includes data and maps of exemplary natural communities and habitats of rare and endangered species.
Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation is a collaboration bringing together government agencies, land managers, botanical gardens, university programs, and botanical experts to inform each other on best practices and topics relevant to rare plant conservation and to form a cohesive network of resources to support regional efforts for at-risk and listed plant species in the southeastern U.S. A meeting in the Atlanta Botanical Garden in March 2020 assembled representatives from many public and private conservation organizations and universities across the Southeast. A meeting summary and recordings of the presentations is available at the SePPCon WEBSITE and videos: https://vimeo.com/channels/1584727/videos/page:4/sort:preset .
US Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to become a reader of its new Fish and Wildlife News online magazine. Read About how the Service is creating a more Connected Constituency.
Wetland Forests protection initiative (www.wetlandforests.org ) focuses on raising public awareness and increasing the scale and coordination of efforts to protect more of the threatened forests in the river bottomlands and wetland areas of the southern U.S. This coalition organized by the Dogwood Alliance, and its mission is to conserve, restore, and improve southern wetland forests through science-backed actions, diverse partnerships, and citizen and landowner engagement.
The Wildlands Network (wildlandsnetwork.org/ ) pursues the vision of establishing four major corridors of protected and restored natural habitats connecting across the North American continent. This science-based solution is proposed in strategic response to what many recognize as the largely human-caused Sixth Great Extinction currently occurring. Its focus now is on devising the Western and Eastern Wildways corridors, including a connected system of conserved land linking 16 essential ecological core areas from Quebec, Canada, down the Appalachian mountains, on to restored and protected longleaf pine forests and coastal ecosystems in NC-SC-GA, and linking on to the eastern Gulf Coast and Florida Everglades. Wildlands Network also advocates for restoration of top carnivores to native ecosystems.
Wildlife Habitat Council (www.wildlifehc.org ) promotes and certifies habitat conservation and management on corporate lands through partnerships and education. The Council is supported by some of America's major landholding corporations. In 2016 the Council debuted a new certification program for wildlife habitat conservation practices on corporately owned and managed lands. Check out the WHC's Conservation Academy, with its many FREE educational webinars. WHC is promoting the wide use of the American Forest Foundation's Project Learning Tree educational program for America's youth.
National Heritage Areas
Many (16 of 49) of the congressionally designated National Heritage Areas are located in the southern region of the U.S. Each area has been designated and authorized by act of Congress and possesses nationally significant natural, cultural, historic, or scenic resources. The Natural Heritage Areas (NHA) program is managed by the National Park Service, but they are not national park units. Each NHA has unique goals and is independently administered by nonprofit organizations or state agencies. All NHAs are involved with establishing public/private partnerships with collaborative plans and programs focused on economic development related to promoting tourism, outdoor recreation, and public education around the themes or features of the heritage areas. Collectively NHAs have leveraged more than $55 million in investments in regional economic development focused on natural and cultural heritage resources and tourism. Volunteers have committed over a million hours of service in support of the NHAs. The National Park Service assists the NHAs with technical and educational assistance.
National Heritage Areas in the southern U.S.---
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
Augusta Canal National Heritage Area
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Cache La Poudre River National Heritage Area
Cane River National Heritage Area
Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area
Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District
South Carolina National Heritage Corridor
Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (www.lccnetwork.org ), which were a great demonstration of collaborative, interagency landscape conservation initiatives, have been terminated by budget curtailment by the Trump Administration's US Dept. of the Interior. The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives were established in 2010 and were intended to be a network of 22 cooperatives established that spanned all of North America and US island territories in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean [seven cooperatives were in the southern U.S]. They were dedicated to building partnerships for large landscape-scale conservation strategies and solutions. But in recent federal budget cycles, the US Fish and Wildlife Service determined it would no longer provide dedicated staff or funding for LCC operations. This decision affected the entire LCC Network, but LCCs have responded in different ways. For example, the South Atlantic LCC continues to exist as an interagency partnership endeavor. The Gulf Coast Prairie LCC has disbanded, and the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks, and Peninsular Florida LCCs have suspended operations.
The shared goal of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives was to apply collective science and management approaches focused on critical conservation issues, including habitat conservation and restoration for imperiled species, connecting aquatic habitats, climate change resiliency and adaptation to sea level rise, balancing energy development with natural resource conservation, reducing negative water quality impacts on the Gulf of Mexico, conserving urban natural habitats, and connecting people with nature. All LCCs had been devising Conservation Blueprints for prioritizing and conserving natural and cultural resources. See the South Atlantic Landscape Cooperative's Conservation Planning Atlas .
Large Landscape Conservation Practitioners' Network
(c/o Center for Large Landscape Conservation ) is an alliance of individuals and organizations engaged in initiatives and promoting collaborations for conservation of large-scale landscapes. The Network for Landscape Conservation is the community of practice for professionals working to catalyze a landscape conservation approach and to achieve on-the-ground success. This collaborative of practitioners from private, public, non-profit, academic, and philanthropic sectors is focused on supporting and advancing the practice of landscape conservation. Their objectives are to
The George Wright Forum, the journal of the George Wright Society (GWS), focused in 2016 on the theme, Scaling Up: Landscape-scale Conservation in North America. That Special Theme issue of the journal explores the past and current practice of landscape-scale conservation through a diverse set of nine articles. (Though the full content of the Forum's current issue is normally reserved for GWS members, the Society graciously partnered with the Practitioners' Network to make this content freely available.)
Living Landscape Observer (livinglandscapeobserver.net ) provides commentary and information on emerging fields of large landscape-scale conservation, historic preservation, and sustainable community development. The "living landscape" approach emphasizes preservation of a sense of place. See also the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation.
Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) was initiated by state agency members of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) and the federal Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group, with support from Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). SECAS is intended to establish a shared, long-term vision for conserving and restoring lands and waters that sustain wildlife and fish populations and enhance human quality of life in the southeast U.S. and Caribbean. The primary product of SECAS is the Southeast Conservation Blueprint, which weaves together smaller subregional plans into one consistent map of important areas for conservation and restoration across the Southeast US and Caribbean. More than 130 people from over 50 organizations have used or are using the Blueprint in their work. A recording of a 60-minute webinar explaining the SECAS is posted on YouTube. See the latest version of the Southeast Blueprint on the Southeast Region Conservation Planning Atlas.
See conservation planning resources furnished by SECAS:
South Atlantic Conservation Planning Atlas
South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint
Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas
Southeast Conservation Blueprint
The Power of Partnership
Partnerships between land trusts and their communities are going to be critical in the years ahead. Climate change is likely to exacerbate weather extremes: more frequent and higher intensity hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. In the Southeast and elsewhere, land trusts respond proactively to the effects of natural disasters and in mitigating their impacts. Here are some examples . . . .
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust:
25 Years of Innovative Conservation
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) culminated its 25th anniversary year and its innovative landscape conservation efforts by passing the threshold of protecting more than 50,000 acres of wildlands with the recent acquisition of a premiere tract: 1,328 acres that establishes the Warbler Ridge Preserve on Pine Mountain in eastern Kentucky. This project builds upon KNLT’s long history of efforts to protect Pine Mountain, a biologically diverse and climate resilient, natural landscape.
This newest preserve protects key forested habitat and headwater streams and safeguard numerous rare terrestrial and aquatic species. This preserve is adjacent to existing state conservation-owned conservation lands for which KNLT previously arranged protection. This keystone preserve adds to the overall connectivity of the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor and secures an important link in the Great Eastern Trail, which connects with the Cumberland Trail in Tennessee. Proceeds from this KNLT land purchase are dedicated for student scholarships and campus investments for southeast Kentucky community and technical college.
<Short video about KNLT Mission & Vision>
KNLT subscribes to Aldo Leopold’s definition of land ethic with a call to “think like a mountain,” with a holistic view of the place of humans in the natural ecosystem, and more recently it has broadened its perspective and mission by adopting J. Baird Callicott’s concept of an Earth ethic and call to “think like a planet,” with respect and responsibility based on global interconnectedness.
As co-founder, former executive director, and staff member of KNLT (and a founding board member of Southern Conservation Partners), Hugh Archer has fostered Kentucky's statewide conservation movement based on principles of innovative conservation and advancing large-scale landscape conservation across Kentucky. Hugh retires from his long professional career in Kentucky land and environmental conservation at the end of 2020 but continues his leadership through lifetime engagement for the preservation of Kentucky’s natural heritage.
Cheers to KNLT and to Hugh Archer!
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces $71 Million in Gulf Coast Projects
Environmental Restoration and
When despair for the world grows in me