Opinion
August 18, 2019

New Initiative Protects Natural Strongholds That Can Withstand Climate Change

The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, today joined Oregon Community Foundation, Seattle Foundation and Idaho Community Foundation to unveil the Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes Initiative.

Launched with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Initiative is a partnership of the three community foundations and the Land Trust Alliance to permanently protect thousands of acres of natural lands in Oregon, Idaho and Washington that can preserve biodiversity, durable wildlife habitat and functional migration corridors as the climate changes. The Initiative will maximize the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s investment by joining with other community foundation donors to support this coordinated effort to increase the capacity of land trusts and provide them with the resources they need to conserve critical natural lands.

“The Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes Initiative provides a vision and resources for strategic land conservation in an era of climate change,” said Sacha Spector, program director for the environment of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “We’re proud to be a part of this innovative philanthropic partnership that will unite donors from around the region to secure the lands that science tells us are the most critical to helping species and habitats persist in the face of a changing climate.”

Scientists at The Nature Conservancy have developed a methodology known as “Resilient and Connected Landscapes” to identify natural places predicted to withstand the growing impacts of climate change and offer refuges to a diverse array of plants and animals. Additionally, these sites provide people with important natural services, such as clean and abundant drinking water. The new Initiative will prioritize the conservation of these sites throughout the region by providing resources to land trusts, which are private, nonprofit organizations that acquire and manage land for the purpose of permanent conservation.

“The Initiative builds on the Alliance’s existing Pacific Northwest Advancing Conservation Excellence program that helps land trusts in Oregon, Washington and Idaho be high-performing nonprofit organizations,” said Andrew Bowman, the Alliance’s president. “The Initiative will provide funding for land acquisition projects and land trust capacity building, thus enhancing the Alliance’s efforts to increase the effectiveness of land trusts as they tackle the climate change challenges and protect their communities.”

“We are so pleased to be part of an innovative partnership made possible by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s generous grant,” said Max Williams, president and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation. “We can leverage Oregon Community Foundation’s ability to connect donors’ philanthropic priorities with community-driven solutions in every corner of the state. This Initiative opens a unique opportunity to make and scale measurable change throughout the region.”

“We are very excited to partner with other community foundations, our philanthropists and the Land Trust Alliance in a unique way to increase land conservation and preserve special places in the Northwest that also offset the impacts of climate change,” said Tony Mestres, president and CEO of Seattle Foundation. “With leadership from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, this innovative national and regional approach to land conservation could serve as a powerful model for others.”

“We are pleased to be part of this effort, which will protect natural lands in the Pacific Northwest and connect Idahoans with opportunities to support places they care about,” said Karen Bilowith, president and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation.

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000 member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through the preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The foundation’s awareness of climate change as the greatest emerging threat to biodiversity — and the need to aggressively mitigate it without unnecessarily sacrificing wildlife habitat — shapes its environmental grantmaking priorities. More than $345 million in grants related to the conservation of wildlife in the United States have been made by the foundation since it was established in 1997.

About Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) puts donated money to work in Oregon – more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually. For nearly 45 years, OCF grantmaking, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. Impactful giving – time, talent and resources from many generous Oregonians - creates measurable change.

About Seattle Foundation

Seattle Foundation ignites powerful, rewarding philanthropy to make Greater Seattle a stronger, more vibrant community for all. Focused on creating equity and opportunity, our goal as a community foundation is to simplify giving and strengthen the impact of philanthropy for the more than 1,200 individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits we serve. We provide deep community insights, powerful civic leadership, effective philanthropic advising and judicious stewardship of assets in support of our mission.

About Idaho Community Foundation

For 30 years, the Idaho Community Foundation has used the power of collective giving to improve lives and enrich communities in Idaho. With three regional offices and board members throughout Idaho, we partner with community leaders, nonprofits and educational institutions in all 44 counties. We make it easy for individuals, families and others to succeed in their philanthropy.