Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy works to “preserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.” It operates in 35 countries and all 50 states in the United States. It has over one million members and has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. To say that it is a big deal in environmentalism is an understatement.
Initially, the Conservancy was formed by a group of scientists who wanted to take direct action to save threatened natural areas around the world. They acquired their first piece of land in 1955. It was a 60-acre tract on the Mianus River Gorge on the border of New York and Connecticut. They went on to create the Land Preservation Fund which is used to fund worldwide conservation efforts.
The Nature Conservancy teams up with governments, non-profit organizations, local stakeholders, indigenous communities, corporate partners, and international organizations to find solutions to conservation issues. They work to protect private lands, change public policies and fund conservation projects around the world.
They have grown through the years, completing more projects in each era. In 1961, they partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to protect old-growth trees in California. In 1965, funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Conservancy hired its first actual president.
In the 70s and 80s, the Nature Conservancy worked on setting up more programs such as the Natural Heritage Network and the International Conservation Program. In 1988, the Conservancy decided to work together with the U.S. Department of Defense to manage 25 million acres of military land.
In 1990, The Nature Conservancy started a project called the Last Great Places Alliance to protect ecosystems. In 2001, the Conservancy celebrated their 50th birthday and acquired Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in Oregon. Until 2005, they continued to buy land in Colorado to create refuges.
Recently, the Conservancy worked on a project in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. They successfully arranged the protection of 161,000 acres of forestland there. That’s not too shabby.