In my previous blog post here, I talked about how people can become more interested and involved in conservation if they hear from peers whom they trust. Since writing that post in early October, the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership has held many events with local communities.
Landowners, members of town Conservation or Open Space Committees, and school children have attended these events. The collaboration from multiple members of the Partnership has allowed the small scale efforts to be numerous enough to be part of something that is providing impact on a larger scale. We have held forest management walks, potluck dinners focused on sharing individual experiences, school field trips, and more. All of these are designed to promote a core theme: good forestry is good for all of us.
These coordinated efforts are funded on the national scale, organized on the regional scale, and come to fruition with groups of people from small towns. Getting creative with involving individual people is at the core of conservation efforts. Especially in New England, without involving the private landowner, wide scale conservation would be more difficult and less effective.
We have been particularly enjoying a new kind of event that is focused on storytelling and sharing of personal experiences. For these, we have been inviting up to 20 landowners or committee members to meet for a weekday evening and talk about their experiences with the woods. After we start with reading a brief story, they have been extraordinarily willing to share about their personal connections to trees, rocks, their own properties, and the outdoors as a whole. We hope they will continue to spread these thoughts that they have just shared out loud. The people who attended have often been neighbors who knew of one another, but had never really connected in a long conversation before, especially not about their love of the land. This casual event provided an opportunity for them to do so.
We are working to build a peer network across our region. Landowner to landowner, conservation professional to conservation professional, we are building from the individual level to a landscape scale network.