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group on a walk

Community-Centered Conservation Programs

Historically, conservation has been approached through a large-scale connectivity lens. However, this lens has ironically disconnected one of the most important factors that impact the health of nature: People. The scope and scale of human impacts on nature have been mostly negative in years past; however, this was not always the case. The harmony and balance that thoughtful stewardship brought to the land, as shown by native, indigenous, and tribal peoples, has helped, not hurt it.

The initial paths and systems that drove us towards conservation, like every system in American history, have been developed with unconscious biases rooted in harmful structures of power, privilege, and prejudice. This has led to putting people second, especially those already at the margins. Seeking to acknowledge, repair, and actively prevent these schools of thought, we are changing the approach. Community-Centered Conservation asks us to shift our responsibility towards putting people first, centering their needs and voices, and not assuming those needs are separate or disconnected from the needs of nature.

Honoring these roots, our Community-Centered Conservation Programs shed light not only on who is doing the conserving but also who does it benefit. When land trusts protect large acres of a biodiverse landscape, they build stronger ecosystems. But when they include and engage a broader diversity of people, they build stronger communities that, in turn, support those same ecosystems. To bring conservation to a wider audience, we start first by meeting them where they are. Through listening, learning, elevating, and amplifying where these communities fit in the conversation, we strengthen our efforts toward equitable perpetuity for all.

Current Programs

Bird & Hike Program

Bird & Hike with CT Land Trusts is a community engagement program to provide communities of color and other underserved communities with opportunities for guided birding and hiking on land trust properties. The program goals include nurturing lifelong connections and creating a sense of belonging and comfort in the outdoors. Underwriting support provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (2022) and the Schumann Foundation (2023).

If your land trust is interested in collaborating with CLCC on a Bird & Hike event, contact Yaw: yodarko@ctconservation.org

Inclusive Conservation Initiatives

A CLCC program commenced in October 2014 (originally “Regional Advancement Initiatives”), the Inclusive Conservation Initiatives help land trusts bring conservation to wider audiences and engage people from all walks of life. Each initiative is uniquely suited to a particular region and engages land trusts in collaborative work with both conservation and non-conservation partners to expand organizational reach and impact. Results of this program have included the creation of Regional Conservation Partnerships, increased community awareness and relevance, and deeper engagement with new audiences and diverse user groups.

Success Stories

Learn more about the impact of CLCC's recently completed advancement initiatives

Looking through binoculars at a bird and hike

Black Birders Week with CLCC at Ash Creek

Looking for the birds during Black Birders Week at Ash Creek

The Aspetuck Land TrustConnecticut Land Conservation Council, and the Sierra Club of CT hosted a BlackAFinSTEM Collective Bird Walk at Ash Creek in Bridgeport.

View of pond through the trees

Northeast Connecticut Advancement Initiative: Inclusive and Accessible Conservation for All

Empowering Northeast CT for Accessible Nature Experiences

Building on previous conversations with land trusts in this region, the Northeast CT Advancement Initiative is focused on increasing inclusivity and expanding access to conservation work. In particular, we are working closely with community user groups to perform accessibility assessments of Joshua’s Trust’s trails.

Early morning mist on a pond

Hiking with the Birds

Embracing Firsts and Exploring Nature on the Bird & Hike Program

CLCC was fortunate to experience the joy of discovery and first-time adventures on the trails at two different events as part of the Bird & Hike program. From spotting unique bird species to embracing the beauty of autumn foliage, youth and adult participants were introduced to a world of natural wonders, fostering a deeper appreciation for the environment and community connections.