ORDWAY, Colo. — Partnerscapes, a landowner-led organization that brings people, working landscapes and communities together in conservation, recently released a report that surveyed nearly 270 collaboratives, like land trusts, forest collaboratives, watershed groups and more across eight western states from Arizona to Montana. The report details conservation partnership efforts conducted in 2020 and reveals how the partnerships measured success, conducted communication on progress and shared insights gained to advance natural resource conservation in the west. The full report can be viewed here.
The report noted seven overarching themes found across all survey responses. Most respondents are:
- Working across at least four jurisdictions with multiple perspectives – many for five years or longer – to tackle issues
- Pooling resources to build relationships and make progress on the ground
- Evaluating progress by tracking the collaborative relationship and natural resource impacts of their efforts
- Using a variety of evaluative tools to help them to better accomplish their goals
- Challenged by limited funding, the impacts of COVID-19 and difficulties building capacity and sustaining engagement
- Pursuing opportunities to engage with other collaboratives and local, state and regional support networks to share lessons and resources
- Striving to better evaluate progress and tell their story to engage participants, build capacity and secure the funding needed to accomplish their goals
The survey was limited to eight states in the west, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The respondents, all participants in the local collaborative efforts, included landowners, agency staff, scientists, facilitators and members of the public.
Unsurprisingly, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges among 87% of respondents primarily due to an impact on funding. The pandemic caused a shared concern over the sustainability of collaboratives in a downturned economy and a decrease in overall funding impacting staffing and shovel-ready projects. In addition, the cancellation of in-person meetings led to reduced engagement and an inability to effectively organize fieldwork. Despite this year’s unusual challenges, there were positive outcomes noted in the survey. More than 80% of respondents reported:
- Improved communication
- Increased trust and data sharing among partners
- Measurable on-the-ground improvements to infrastructure, stream miles restored and acres of habitat conserved or treated
The importance of measuring collaborative outcomes is critical to increased funding, awareness and effectiveness. In fact
- 52% reported that efforts to evaluate had helped them to increase capacity and/or funding for their collaborative
- 57% reported that efforts to evaluate had encouraged more participation among original partners or grown the number of participants involved with the collaborative
- 56% reported that efforts to evaluate had increased their collaborative’s support and/or credibility within their local community
“Though many respondents noted challenges, they were also achieving success in multiple contexts,” said Steve Jester, executive director – Partnerscapes. “This survey makes it clear that partnerships are not only highly effective in addressing conservation and natural resource challenges, but also that the work Partnerscapes is doing is supporting collaboration in conservation resulting in measurable outcomes.”
Established in 2008 and incorporated as Partners for Conservation in 2010, Partnerscapes embodies a grassroots movement of private landowners working with agencies, non-profit organizations and policymakers to collaborate on conservation projects to sustain working landscapes for present and future generations. Partnerscapes represents the voices of 21st century conservation and the collective effort to support working landscapes through voluntary, incentive-based public and private programs. Partnerscapes is a highly functional, well-respected national organization operating with a small core staff, active Board of Directors, partner organizations and agencies. Partnerscapes has a growing presence across the 50 states and its program work and growth reflect highly held values and an exceptional reputation. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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