Strategic Conservation

Land trusts actively working to conserve and protect natural places and community green spaces and the multiple ecological, social, and economic benefits they provide. Strategic Conservation is a process that produces tools to aid decision makers in identifying, prioritizing, pursuing, and protecting those specific tracts of land that will most effectively and efficiently achieve the land trust’s mission. Recent reports suggest that land trusts that engage in strategic conservation planning are able to more effectively acquire and protect their acquisition targets.

In a 2012 presentation at the Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference, practitioners detailed four steps land trusts can take to move towards strategic conservation planning:

  1. Get Started
  2. Understand Your Community
  3. Setting Priorities
  4. Implementation

While approaches may vary, these straightforward steps can help organizations identify their goals, connect with key stakeholders in the community, align their tactics with their conservation mission, and turn their plans into action. Adaptive management planning, where goals and actions are periodically revisited to assess progress and allow for adjustments of strategies where necessary also compliments this long-term approach to conservation planning.

Additional Resources

Resources for Land Trust Alliance Members (Login Required)

Green Infrastructure – Providing both the historical framework for the importance of greenways and green space networks, and practical advice on how to design and implement them, this book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand innovative approaches to conservation-minded land use.

Strategic Conservation Planning
According to the 2010 National Land Trust Census, land trusts that had strategic conservation plans protected twice as much land as land trusts without plans. Written by Ole Amundsen and published by the Land Trust Alliance, this resource helps land trusts visualize their community’s future and chart a course to realize that vision. Because planning actions today will determine the parks, working farms, forests, and scenic landscapes your children and grandchildren will enjoy, it pays to be careful in how you use your resources to ensure you save the right land. Strategic Conservation Planning provides you with the process and tools to identify, prioritize, pursue and protect the land that will most effectively and efficiently achieve your conservation mission.

Sample Strategic Conservation Plans

There are more than 50 additional reports, articles, and case studies available on the Land Trust Alliance’s The Learning Center.  Some samples include:

Mapping Initiatives to Help Land Trusts with  Strategic Conservation

Two mapping projects that will be valuable resources to land trusts designing and implementing strategic conservation across the U.S. include the Protected Areas Database of the U.S. (PAD-US) and the National Conservation Easement Database (NCED). These efforts can also help individual land trusts, the Alliance and others tell the impressive story of private land conservation in America.