Stewardship is, at its core, about people. Connecting Communities to Nature is a crucial project for the Nature Trust to ensure we keep our promise of "Forever Wild".
The Nature Trust has embarked on an urgent, ambitious 5 year land conservation campaign to address biodiversity loss, saving our best wild places before it’s too late. Our effort is part of the federal government’s efforts to protect 17% of Canada by 2020 and 25% by 2025. We have grown our conservation lands network exponentially in the first 2 years of the campaign, and aim to double our protected areas to 30,000 acres by 2023. But as our conservation lands network grows, the scale and complexity of stewardship needed to safeguard these special places grows too. As our land trust’s profile grows, public use and pressures on our lands also grows, exacerbated by climate change, development and resource extraction pressures. As a result, we need to rapidly scale up our land stewardship capacity to care for and manage over 120 conservation lands (anticipated to be over 160 by 2023).
Our greatest potential asset and ally in saving and caring for nature is our local community members. Our Connecting Communities to Nature initiative is about empowering local citizens to protect the places they love, to learn the skills, develop capacity and be part of a supported team network that enables them to become guardians of Nova Scotia’s wild places. This volunteer force is a critical complement to our staff resources.
Beyond a focus on individual volunteers, we will be creating a new model of volunteerism, based on the principals of Engagement Organizing and the creation of volunteer ‘hubs.’ Engagement organizing entails a distributed model of leadership that inspires semi-autonomous, locally led volunteer teams of Property Guardians who work collaboratively to care for a suite of conservation lands in their local community. It is about empowerment and engagement of local communities and citizens. This work is now underway in the 100 Wild Islands, the South Shore, the St. Mary’s River, and the Annapolis Valley, with plans to expand the model across the province over the coming years.
This work is highly collaborative, working with partner organizations to improve stewardship capacity and capability throughout the province. We will be working with our partners to provide additional training opportunities for our volunteers to ensure the highest level of care for our conservation lands. By working together, we can promote a culture of stewardship in Nova Scotia that inspires future generations to take action.
To learn more about our Property Guardians volunteer program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Property Guardians & Land Stewardship page for more information.
The Nature Trust is grateful for the generous support of the McCain Foundation, major funders of this important project. We would also like to thank Nature Canada for their continued support of our Engagement Organizing work.