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What We Do - Wildlands Project

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Although the Wildlands Project's call for restoring keystone species and connectivity was met, at first, with amusement, these goals have now been embraced broadly as the only realistic strategy for enduring the extinction crisis.

Paul Ehrlich
Bing Professor of Population Studies Stanford, University


We Face Reality

Leading scientists, and now much of the general public, realize that the extinction of plants and animals in North America is happening at a much faster pace then ever before. Many believe we are well into the era of the Sixth Great Extinction.

One of the critical problems is that the areas previously set aside to protect wildlife in North America were not always chosen with ecological values in mind. This "ad hoc" approach to conservation has left Canada, the United States, and Mexico with systems of protected areas that are too small, too isolated from each other, and represent too few types of ecosystems to sustain native wildlife over time.

We Create a Hopeful and Achievable Vision

We believe that we can stop the extinction crisis in North America. We believe we can protect and preserve what other countries have already lost-our unique and irreplaceable biodiversity-by protecting the lands and waters upon which all plants, animals, and people depend upon to stay healthy.

We Provide a Conservation Strategy that is Continental, Regional and Local in Scale

The Wildlands Project's work to reconnect the continent begins with "MegaLinkages"--vast pathways that tie natural places together.

Within each continental MegaLinkage we propose regional systems of core protected areas connected to one another by "wildlife linkages," mosaics of public and private lands that provide safe passageways for wildlife to travel freely from place to place.

Private land owners within proposed conservation planning areas are not bound in any way by our recommendations, but are encouraged to participate in voluntary actions to protect landscape linkages and native species.

We Support the Vision with Solid Scientific Research and Cutting-Edge Methodologies

Leading scientists agree that large-scale conservation efforts must include the full range of native plants and animals in order to fully protect biodiversity for the long term. Unique or special features of the landscape that support rare and unusual species, such as wetlands and riverbanks, should also be protected. Important species that are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment, such as lynx and marten, or those that have a particularly strong influence over other plants and animals in the ecosystem, like bears and wolves, also deserve special consideration.

Lynx photo © Susan C. Morse

We take all of these lessons from science and then develop what we call a Wildlands Network Design or "WND." The basic elements of a Wildlands Network Design are:

core wild areas, truly wild areas where natural processes are allowed to function normally

wildlife linkages, areas of shared use by humans and wildlife that allow wide- ranging species and others the room they need to find food, woo a mate, and travel safely across the land

stewardship lands, areas that surround and buffer core wild areas and wildlife linkages, in which sustainable economic activities help to promote thriving local communities.

We Get the Job Done with our Network of Partners

Once completed, these large-scale, science-based conservation plans are then used by conservation groups, state and federal agencies, local governments, land trusts, private landowners, and others to make more informed decisions on the ground in their efforts to protect wildlife and wildlands.

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