Every year, the US land conservation community meets at the “Land Trust Alliance Rally – the National Land Conservation Conference”. About 1,500 people from hundreds of organisations come together to learn, connect, and recharge. Among them: a growing number of international participants. At this year’s Rally in New Orleans, our LIFE project “European Networks for Private Land Conservation” (LIFE ENPLC) sent Anne-Sophie Mulier of the European Landowners Organization (ELO), Carolina Halevy of Eurosite and Tilmann Disselhoff of NABU to represent the European side of private land conservation at Rally. We have three stories to share. Read the first one here.
Although we have different settings around the world, we have similar private land conservation issues everywhere. There is much we can learn from each other, inspire and brainstorm together. Gatherings such as the LTA Rally are the way to go to share the positive energy.
Lessons learnt on private land conservation practices and strategies are waiting for us to be considered when moving forward in Europe. This is an opportunity we cannot miss to move forward in a quick and effective way. Attending the technical workshop sessions gave me insights into the US system, but also raised many questions that I took home and for which I will try to find answers applicable to the European situation. I am bringing home lessons learnt from such a growing, motivating, inspiring platform. The task is now to use these lessons and to proceed to a sustainable and inclusive EU private land conservation framework, in which land trusts and individual landowners are equal partners of the network.
What could a land trust network look like in Europe? We have a great variety of organisation types that could become part of a “European land trust network”, which makes building it challenging, but inclusive if we succeed. We will need to come up with a set of criteria for these organizations to define the network. This network can speed up the upscaling and streamlining of the implementation of easements and other voluntary conservation tools in Europe. In any case, the members of such networks should fully represent the diversity of practitioners in the field. I believe this approach has great potential.
It is my ambition to establish the Conservation Landowners Coalition that ELO and Eurosite started as a recognised and active secretariat for private land conservation in the EU. Rally proved again the great importance of a network of practitioners to inspire each other. Witnessing these connections impressed me more than political keynote speakers ever do. It was was great and inspiring also to see so many women on stage making a difference.
Another observation: We must move to assessing land values by their natural and ecosystem functions: land value should rise with its importance for nature, biodiversity and the community, not decrease because of land use limitations due to conservation restrictions. Conservation needs to become a recognised land use, as (economically) feasible as other types.
Being part of Rally, in particular the international side events, showed me: The private land conservation movement around the world has started to become a force to be reckoned with. I am honoured to be in the front row of this movement in Europe. Exciting times are coming up!
Networking dinner at the LTA