By Alexis Dunnum, NFU Executive Assistant
Land management practices have the capacity to either mitigate climate change or to exacerbate its negative impacts. As landowners, farmers have the opportunity to participate in conservation efforts and directly protect the land, water, and wildlife. However, owning and managing property is not the only way to ensure lands near you remain protected and free from development. Conserve With Us is a platform created to connect people and communities with non-profit organizations that actively works to conserve land from development, also known as land conservancies.
Land conservancies accomplish this task by either buying land or holding conservation easements. While the government continues to be the largest owner of natural lands, land conservancies are at the forefront of private land conservation in the United States. To date, 56 million acres are conserved by land trusts, ensuring the maintenance of spaces valued by the community, ranging from historic farms and recreational spaces to endangered species and critical watersheds.
Like other crowd funding platforms, Conserve With Us grants the public the ability to financially support local and national land trusts of their choice. Using the map on the website, users can identify projects in need of support, learn more about the area being conserved, view the additional funding needs of the project, and donate to the cause.
All across the country, land is being developed to meet the needs of urban areas. According to the American Farmland Trust, between 1992 and 2012, the United States lost 31 million acres of land to urban development. That’s a rate roughly equivalent to 175 acres an hour, or 3 acres every minute.
Although all types of landscapes are experiencing urban encroachment, development is occurring on agricultural lands at disproportionally high rates – 62% of all urban development occurs on farmland. These trusts have become increasingly important to conservation efforts throughout the nation, but also have added benefits for the communities surrounding the protected area. In addition to gaining a preserved, natural space with clean water, fresh air, and open spaces for recreation, most communities have also enjoyed improvements in economic, environmental, and social values.
While not everyone owns property, each one of us has the ability to protect valuable lands for generations to come. If you’re interested in learning more about land trusts or finding a project you’d like to support, please visit www.conservewith.us for more information.
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