On International Women's Day, while celebrating women's achievements in conservation, the TennGreen Land Conservvancy honored its founder, Kathleen Williams, a Southern Conservation Partners Board member. Inspired by the book Greenways for America by Charles Little, Kathleen started TennGreen (first named the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation) with a vision to create an interconnected greenway system (large corridors of conserved land) to protect our natural treasures, waters, and wildlife. State parks would be destinations in this network: to get Tennesseans and tourists outside to explore nature and appreciate its beauty. Kathleen's bold vision, impressive successes throughout the years, and her abiding love for Tennessee attracted kindred spirits and other fearless females. Learn more HERE.
In addition, National River Network honored Suzi Wilkins Berl with its Compton Award, on the 20th anniversary year of the award, in recognition of her lifetime work and significant contributions to protecting U.S. rivers and waters. Suzi is a Southern Conservation Partners Advisor who has dedicated her life to river conservation: her achievements span 40 years in the nonprofit conservation field. She has worked as River Network’s Southeast Coordinator (2000–2005), American River’s Director of State River Programs (1989–1994), Farmington River Watershed Association’s Executive Director (1984–1989), Connecticut Land Trust Service Bureau’s Executive Director (1980–1984), and Long Island Sound Task Force’s Executive Director (1976–1980). Suzi also served on River Network’s Board of Directors and as board chair. Learn more HERE.
Human population continues to surge across much of the southern United States, with resulting conversion of rural landscapes and environmentally sensitive areas to more urban and industrial uses. As human population grows and more urban/suburban development occurs, we should be embracing wiser and more environmentally balanced alternatives for use of land resources and community development.
Upstate Forever, a multifaceted environmental and community conservation organization based in Greenville, South Carolina, has articulated Ten Principles of Smart Growth. READ MORE or click on image.
We really enjoyed the following essay, originally published in the NC Coastal Federation's Coastal Review Online. Many thanks to Coastal Review and to author Jared Lloyd, wildlife photographer and nature writer, for allowing us to reprint it here.
I’m on the winter beach, wide, flat and cold. Cobalt-blue skies reign overhead. A biting wind rushes in from the northwest.
It’s all so different up here on the northern Outer Banks, compared to the southern islands. The Labrador current and cold-slope waters create a dramatically different climate here, compared to those sandbars governed by the Gulf Stream. Seals will be showing up again soon enough. Mostly young harbor seals, but a few fat greys and even some harps, if we are lucky.
The New England blues have already made it to town, and I can only assume stripers are in their mix. I’ve watched a parade of humpback whales migrating south past this beach for a month now already, their dark, shadowy masses drawing in birds for miles around, occasionally rolling over to lift a great wing of a fin out of the sea like a friendly neighbor waving hello, or goodbye, or maybe just flipping me the bird. <<continued...>>
The following is excerpted from a National Geographic magazine essay (Sept. 2020 issue) and from Enric Sala’s book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild (2020). (Britain’s Prince Charles and Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson furnish the book’s introductions.)
“If we degrade habitats, animals become stressed and shed more viruses. On the other hand, habitats with diverse species harbor less disease. . . . Nature controls viruses – filtering them out of the system – that we’re only now recognizing. . . .
"We are all in this together, all species on the planet. So what can we do? While the world has stepped up to help those in need during the COVID-19 outbreaks, we might also start thinking about how to prevent the next zoonotic pandemic.
"We have seen, again and again, that even though we don’t know what most of them do, all wild animals have important jobs that keep our biosphere running. If we’ve learned anything from our study of natural ecosystems as it applies to these recent diseases, it’s that instead of exterminating wild animals to stop the passage of disease to people, we should do the opposite: We should safeguard the natural ecosystems that are their homes and, if needed, help set them back on their path to maturity through rewilding.
"If we degrade habitats, animals become stressed and shed more viruses. On the other hand, habitats with diverse microbial, plant, and animal species harbor less disease. Biodiversity dilutes any viruses that emerge and provides a natural shield that absorbs the fallout from pathogens.
"Clamping down on the illegal trade of wildlife, ending deforestation, protecting intact ecosystems, educating people about the risks of consuming wildlife, changing the way we produce food, phasing out fossil fuels, and transitioning to a circular economy: these are the things we can and must do.
"Even if it’s just for selfish reasons—for our own survival—now more than ever, we need the wild. A healthy natural world is our best antivirus.”
READ the following statement for Southern Conservation Partners authored by board chair Milo Pyne. . . .
In addition, we recommend this Aug. 20, 2020 INTERVIEW with J. Drew Lanham (Clemson University wildlife ecology professor; author of numerous profound essays concerning environmental justice and issues for minority populations in America; and author of books including The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair With Nature and 9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher. The interview was conducted by Tom Fleischner, Natural History Institute executive director and chair of the Ecological Society of America's natural history section.
"Friday, June 19th, was Juneteenth, an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. To honor this solemn anniversary and to demand continued work toward true liberation for black people in this country, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a national day of action organized by Black-led groups on the front lines of this fight. We will continue to remember ...
… and countless other Black lives lost to police brutality and racist violence.
We at Southern Conservation Partners must sadly acknowledge that the conservation lands forming the backbone of land and biodiversity conservation in the southeastern United States were first stolen from the indigenous inhabitants—members of civilizations and groups we now call the Cherokee, Lumbee, Shawnee, Choctaw, Natchez, Yuchi, Eno, Caddo, Timucua, Catawba, Seminole, and many more. Their names live on in the terms by which we describe many of our rivers, National Forests, and other conservation lands. (continued...)
Waves of grief and anxiety wash over me. At a time when the world needs a hug, we just can’t. And all the public entertainment is gone--sports, movies, bars and restaurants. Even dining in the home of someone you love puts you at greater risk. I’ve given up seeing my 2-year-old and 6-year-old grandsons.
It's heartbreakingly sad, and everyone is saying the worst is ahead of us. Death will come to some we love. But rebirth is all around us because spring is here and there is resurrection in that green wood. You can still find peace and great joy. Go outside. Go to the woods. Be very present. Let your thoughts pass like the clouds and really see what is here now and your stress will disappear.
Unlike those in Italy and China, we are not confined to our homes. We live in a beautiful green garden. This is the blessing. This can be our salvation. Go. Walk around your yard. Yell across the driveway to your neighbor. Decide where you’ll plant your garden. Feel the breeze. Listen to the birds. See the trees reaching upward to the heavens. You can stretch and reach, too. You can put your arms around that tree and hug it. Believe me, it will help you heal. Neuroscientists have studied it. It can also boost your immunity and is a tonic for stress and grief. It could save your life.
Jesus went to the mountaintop to pray. Buddha sat under the spreading branches of a fig tree with its heart-shaped leaves. They found the “peace that passeth understanding.” You can, too.
Water heals. Turn over the rocks and see the life on the underside. Skip a stone. Take your kids fishing. Walk alongside a stream. Listen. The sound of water, the gurgle, babble, splash soothes. So much life abounds it will renew your hope.
--Kathleen Williams-Mooradian, Southern Conservation Partners Board Member
(Essay originally published on April 9, 2020, in The Tennessean )
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."
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following questions: