This is a watershed moment for conservation in the United States. The Biden administration’s America the Beautiful initiative—along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Law—is driving unprecedented levels of funding into the restoration, stewardship, and conservation of our lands and waters. But this influx of federal project delivery funding reveals a gap that needs to be filled: the on-the-ground capacity to get the work done. The Catalyst Fund, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, aims to build capacity and help local and regional partnerships contribute toward achieving national conservation goals.
When we hear the term “ecological corridors” we tend to think of the natural pathways that land animals like elk or elephants use to move among larger natural areas to eat, drink, mate and meet other survival needs. Corridors are equally important for marine life like whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds, which depend on linkages between ocean areas for daily movement, seasonal migration, and completing their life cycles. Until recently, collaborative research and guidance on marine ecological connectivity had been lacking, but now the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is supporting coordination of work by a unique group of experts that is making the issue a top priority.
The Network for Landscape Conservation has announced its 2021 Catalyst Fund grant awards, with 15 Landscape Conservation Partnerships from throughout the United States receiving support. Funds will be used to advance Partnerships’ efforts to protect the ecological, cultural, and community values of the landscapes they call home. Grants are made to Partnerships demonstrating a genuinely collaborative approach to conservation, involving a variety of stakeholders and often including historically marginalized communities who have been excluded from previous land-management decisions. In particular, a portion of the Fund is specifically dedicated to supporting Indigenous leadership in landscape conservation.
Akash Patil of India spoke of his first encounter with a leopard and his subsequent commitment to a career in conservation. Nayla Azmi told a story of growing up in an Indonesian palm oil plantation and her journey to become an orangutan protector. Sarah Kulis, a recent graduate from West Virginia University, and legally blind, encouraged other aspiring conservationists with disabilities to persevere. These were three of the young storytellers who shared their experiences in conservation at the Center’s workshop at the recent IUCN Global Youth Summit.
The Network for Landscape Conservation is pleased to announce 13 grant awards for Partnerships working to implement community-grounded conservation at the necessary landscape scale. The funding support will enable each of these Partnerships to accelerate their efforts to build enduring, place-based, collaborative conservation efforts that protect the ecological, cultural, and community health of the landscapes they call home.