As a friend and partner of the Network for Landscape Conservation, the Salazar Center shares the sentiments and values outlined in the following statement. We are grateful for the opportunity to help the NLC amplify this message, and to add our own voice to this call for change in the conservation community.
Dear Network friends,
The Network for Landscape Conservation is committed to embodying and advancing diverse, equitable, and inclusive conservation. This core value is a fundamental pillar of our work and of the collaborative landscape conservation movement overall. We condemn the systemic anti-black racism and injustice that has pervaded our country for 400 years, as most recently reflected in the horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others. We acknowledge the racist roots of the conservation movement itself, and how it has too often ignored or trampled the voices, needs, and rights of People of Color and Indigenous communities on the landscape with tragic consequences—and made people feel unwelcome and unsafe like Christian Cooper while birding in Central Park. We embrace the urgent need for concerted action and societal change.
We also acknowledge that the Network’s initial steps to live up to our core values pale in comparison to the need for justice, equity, inclusion, and human dignity for all people across our landscapes and our society. We humbly pledge to listen, to learn (and unlearn), and to evolve, building on the emerging foundation of action underway in our work:
- We have provided in-depth diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice training to many staff and leadership, and will provide training to the entire 30-person leadership by the end of this year. We are also reviewing Network programs, participation, and governance through this vital lens.
- We will publish later this summer a report on diversity and inclusion in landscape conservation partnerships, in collaboration with the Salazar Center for North American Conservation. We have much to learn from the partnerships who share their experiences and insights in this report.
- Our Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund includes specific funding focused on supporting Indigenous-led landscape conservation partnerships, as well as an overall emphasis on partnerships that are meaningfully focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
- In our associated Peer Learning Program, Catalyst Fund grantees have identified cross-cultural collaboration as a major focus, and we have begun raw and honest conversations about privilege and power, racism in conservation, decolonizing conservation, and more—learning from those who can speak from a lifetime of personal experience and perspective.
Is this enough? Not by any means. It is only a start, and the Network pledges that our core values will increasingly be reflected in action—with your help. Our shared landscapes can inspire and connect people, and start to heal these societal wounds. Please let us know what you are doing and how we can do better as a Network.
Julie Regan, Network Co-Chair; Ernest Cook, Network Co-Chair; and Emily Bateson, Network Director
Photograph of “Raise Up,” a sculpture by Hank Willis Thomas on the grounds of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Credit: Emily Bateson.