When Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government provided a grant to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program and the Blackfoot Challenge in 2006 to help spread the word about public-private partnerships and collaborative landscape-scale conservation, none of us knew what we were getting into! What started as local conversations soon led to connections with other landscapes that were successfully working collaboratively as well as conservation partners who viewed collaborative conservation as a high leverage strategy to conserve working landscapes.
Annual meetings began in 2008 where we found more interested partners and additional landscapes that were having success as well as others who were hoping that collaboration could help them work through their conservation and sustainability challenges.
The more we talked, the more we learned that while we come from very different parts of the country, we all face similar challenges when it comes to sustaining the landscapes and communities we call home. We have also learned that while there are numerous ways to “get there” the stories of our landscapes share some common threads. When the stories are shared you can almost always identify the moment in time when one landowner, or a small group of landowners, began to have a different kind of conversation both with their neighbors and with the agencies and organizations that might not fit the mold of a natural partner.
The sharing of stories can be very powerful when interacting with landscapes that are looking for an answer. The sharing of stories has also helped us, as a group, to identify things we can agree to work on to help make collaborations the first choice when addressing hard issues with multiple private and public stakeholders. I hope the stories and other information on this site will resonate with you and that you become inspired to join the conversation!