Introducing… Conservation Without Conflict: A Q&A with the Coalition’s Executive Director, Lauren Ward

Introducing… Conservation Without Conflict: A Q&A with the Coalition’s Executive Director, Lauren Ward

If you haven’t heard about the new coalition Conservation Without Conflict, it’s time to get better acquainted. This initiative started out as a collective vision of collaboration for mutual benefit across a broad range of partners to conserve wildlife while keeping America’s working lands working. To help balance the many competing values on our working lands—which sometimes come into conflict with one another—a nationwide partnership was formed based on trust and collaboration. At this time, Conservation Without Conflict is being administered through the Wildlife Management Institute and WMI is also represented on the Executive Board.

Lauren Ward

The Conservation Without Conflict coalition is driving the development of innovative, non-regulatory solutions that help landowners and land managers conserve wildlife. When non-traditional partners work together and create economically viable solutions to wildlife conservation, they can achieve their shared goal of achieving enduring conservation at scale while keeping America’s working lands working.

We are excited about Lauren Ward’s leadership and the broad coalition of organizations involved in this effort. Lauren will be providing articles in the ONB and wanted to start with a Q&A to answer questions about the work that she is coordinating.

Who Is Conservation Without Conflict?

Conservation Without Conflict is both a proven approach to conservation and a coalition of public and private partners with highly diverse goals who are united in their commitment to conserving wildlife while keeping America’s working lands working. The coalition emphasizes innovative, voluntary, and collaborative approaches to conserving wildlife on working lands, rather than the historic contentious—and even litigious—approaches of the past.

To date, over 60 members have joined the coalition, including a variety of federal and state agencies, private landowner groups across the country, conservation NGOs, members of the hunting and fishing community, the energy sector, corporations, foundations, and even researchers. Conservation Without Conflict is bringing together a uniquely diverse amalgamation of groups coming from a broad variety of perspectives joining together to support voluntary collaboration as the preferred tool for conservation.

What Is the Vision and Mission of the Coalition?

Our vision is for voluntary collaboration to be the preferred model for wildlife conservation on working lands across the United States.

Our mission is to foster a culture of enduring trust and partnership across diverse sectors, groups, and individuals to support a sustainable national landscape that conserves wildlife and improves quality of life for landowners and communities.

What Is the Conservation Without Conflict Approach?

Conservation Without Conflict is catalyzing the growing paradigm shift happening in wildlife conservation, moving from top-down, regulatory tactics to a more voluntary and collaborative approach. One of the foundational aspects of this approach is building enduring trust, communication, and transparency among partners. The coalition embraces innovative tools that are rooted in science to achieve real results for species and for working lands. The Conservation Without Conflict approach embraces wildlife conservation driven by incentives, predictability, economic viability, and risk reduction. The approach is sustainable, scalable, and replicable, bringing together a diverse and inclusive group and applying a broad definition of “working lands.”

Why Should Landowners, Agencies, and Conservation Practitioners Use the Conservation Without Conflict Approach?

The coalition believes that implementing the Conservation Without Conflict approach to conservation results in thriving wildlife and increasing biodiversity. Importantly, the approach also keeps working lands working, mitigating risk for landowners, and maintaining their economic viability so that they may continue serving as undeveloped habitat for listed and at-risk species.

When partners use the Conservation Without Conflict approach, conservation projects become more adaptable, more efficient, and more effective due to a willingness to collaborate and open communication among all parties.

This approach also yields significant co-benefits beyond wildlife conservation and maintenance of working lands. The many ecological co-benefits include carbon storage, lands conserved, improved water quality, improved air quality, invasive species control, native ecosystem restoration, and many more. When it comes to socioeconomic and cultural co-benefits, this approach provides increased recreational opportunities, food security, national security, local economic growth, jobs saved and/or created, human health benefits, and continued protection of culturally significant sites.

Overall, when the Conservation Without Conflict approach is applied, working lands can continue to provide benefits for society while wildlife habitat is supported and conserved.

How Can I Find Out More?

Look for future articles in the ONB for more information and news on Conservation Without Conflict’s activities. The coalition is still building organizational capacity, and you can visit their temporary website. Full website to launch this summer.

Photo Credit
Burton Photography
May 16, 2022