Conservation benefits for all communities

Moose in Anchorage, Alaska

Conservation efforts in the United States have reached an historic inflection point.

Now, more than ever before, citizens, community leaders, organizations, private businesses and elected officials recognize the urgent need to rapidly expand conservation efforts that could mitigate the harshest impacts of climate change.

Scale is the key to success. Conservation efforts must grow. They must reach new landscapes, new communities and engage those who have not previously been involved in conservation. By continually expanding the scope of conservation, and by focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, NFWF and its funding partners strive to ensure that the cascading benefits of conservation projects extend to everyone, regardless of geographic, cultural or socioeconomic boundaries. This is the path to a more just and sustainable future.

NFWF’s conservation investments in 2021 reflected these ideals. Grants awarded in urban areas helped underserved communities use natural infrastructure to improve water quality and address flooding. Others awarded in underserved rural areas helped farmers and small-timberland holders of all backgrounds become better stewards of their lands while improving their operations. Grants awarded on tribal lands helped indigenous people slow erosion, bolster populations of fish and wildlife they depend on for sustenance, and conserve and enhance natural habitats that hold deep cultural value.

NFWF grants helped young people living in cities connect with nature, volunteer for conservation projects and understand how urban runoff affects natural areas downstream. Other investments supported efforts to create or enhance greenspaces in major metropolitan areas, which not only improve the quality of life for millions but also provide important migratory stopover points for songbirds and vital pollinator species.

Still other grants enabled economically disadvantaged communities to plan and design nature-based infrastructure projects that would otherwise be out of reach. Investments of this kind will build a pipeline of shovel-ready projects that will accelerate national conservation efforts in the coming years. 

In 2021, NFWF also launched a new partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund that provided internships at the Foundation and other conservation organizations for 34 graduate and undergraduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

The Foundation plans to continue and expand this exciting new program in the years to come, providing a pathway for increased diversity within the conservation community.

The benefits of conservation, and the risks posed by inaction, know no boundaries. Healthy natural habitats, bountiful wildlife populations, clean water and clean air — all communities deserve these things, and all communities must have ample opportunities to play a role in protecting them.