In my forty-plus-year career in land conservation—in North Carolina and throughout the southeastern US— I’ve developed some strong opinions and perspectives. For one thing, I realize that being dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring our region’s extraordinary natural heritage puts me and you in the minority. Most of “the public” does not know, appreciate, or care about the natural environment and its benefits to us all, nor do most people grasp how essential it is for us to conserve these natural resources.
But we “crusaders” and “defenders” are dedicated to doing the right and profoundly important thing: conserving and protecting the natural heritage resources of the southern US. A basic challenge is to build public awareness and a sense of concern and responsibility for the amazing diversity of natural life around us. We truly need to grow the number of people and widen the community of interest and support for defending and stewarding our natural environment and special natural places. Making substantial headway in confronting that challenge requires particular attention to educating young people and connecting them to the wonders and benefits of nature. Furthermore, we must do better at educating and aiding landowners whose properties encompass important natural places and fragile or unique environmental features, so that they will become committed stewards of those places.
I am irritated when I hear people, some even within the ranks of our land conservation organizations, question the fundamental relevance of our efforts—suggesting, perhaps, that protecting natural resources and environmental assets is irrelevant to the needs and interests of our increasingly urban communities and society? My position is that conservation of land, water, and ecological resources is essential to maintaining and improving the health, quality of life, and very survival of us humans and our communities. But, to borrow from the famous African proverb (“it takes a village to raise a child”), we can also accurately see that it takes a village—that is, a community with shared concerns and mutual interests—to conserve healthy and functioning forests, natural habitats, aquatic systems, and fragile ecosystems. These, I believe, have been entrusted to us and are dependent upon our care. Only by working together can we conserve our most treasured natural places for a better tomorrow.
We have the tools and information that equip us to identify the places in our communities and rural landscapes that possess exceptional natural resource values. What we need is greater dedication and resolve in applying those tools and moving to protect and conserve the places of greatest importance. Commitment, dedication, and some bravery are required.
Given limited human and financial resources, it is necessary for those of us who appreciate and are concerned with saving the best and most fragile of our environmental assets to work more closely together in partnerships: collaboration increases our odds of success against the forces of ignorance and greed that endanger those same resources and places. We must work together, in partnership, to save our unique natural landscapes and places. --Chuck Roe, President, SCP
Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
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