Living Naturally in Community
A conservation community is a group of individuals and families living in a community, and committed to saving large parcels of land from ecological degradation. This land can be forested land, agricultural land, ranch land, or any other type of land that is threatened by high-impact development.
Conservation communities are models of sustainable community development, an alternative approach to conventional urban or suburban sprawl development. They are adaptable to the needs of different regions and use small-scale eco-industrial, residential or eco-tourism development to fund conservation, minimizing the dependence upon private donors or governments.
Some of the tools used to create conservation communities are conservation or eco-forestry covenants registered against the title of the land. Covenants are legal contracts that protect the ecological health of watersheds, maintain long-term and sustainable access to natural resources and create associated value-added opportunities. Highly specific zoning, such as the Community Land Stewardship Zoning also provides restrictions.
Globally, there is an increasing awareness of the value of regional ecological goods and services. To ensure that forests remain healthy and that ecological goods and services are valued, the Trust for Sustainable Forestry and its partners have pioneered an interlocking system of legal mechanisms. These mechanisms provide a “belts and suspenders” approach to conservation.
Elkington Forest, a project of the Trust for Sustainable Forestry, has become a model for eco-forestry conservation around the globe precisely because of the care taken to integrate these five mechanisms: