National Park Service
Among QLF’s diverse network of partners is the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). A primary vehicle for bringing home learning from QLF’s international programs is the Stewardship Institute — formerly known as the Conservation Study Institute — which advances innovation in collaborative conservation for the stewardship of the U.S. national system of parks and special places. QLF is a founding partner in the Stewardship Institute with the National Park Service, University of Vermont, and Shelburne Farms. Through this partnership, QLF promotes increased collaboration, diversification, and innovation among landscape conservationists and advocates nationwide.
QLF and Stewardship Institute partners are currently working to implement the NPS Collaborative for Innovative Leadership, an initiative that aims to accelerate the spread of ideas, encourage innovation, and inspire peer-to-peer collaboration to solve mission-critical problems and advance organizational excellence. Current foci are the Urban Agenda and Scaling Up.
The NPS Urban Agenda is a broad action plan to promote collaboration among the 409 parks and 40+ national programs that constitute the national park system. The Urban Agenda recognizes that 80% of the US population lives in urban areas, and promotes three principles: ensuring parks are relevant to all Americans; integrating all elements of the system as “One NPS”; and nurturing a culture of collaboration.
As part of the NPS Scaling Up project, QLF has worked with a team of NPS staff from parks, regional offices and national programs to advance models of collaboration in large landscape conservation. Priorities have centered on expanding conversations and diversifying partnerships in large landscape protection, as well as developing a more effective strategy to engage and motivate diverse groups of people to take action.
QLF maintains close ties to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and specifically to the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WPCA). Brent Mitchell is the chair of a WCPA Specialist Group on privately protected areas and nature stewardship, which recently completed a global survey of private reserves and their contribution to meeting the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Mr. Mitchell also serves on the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, and he was editor of an issue of the WCPA journal PARKS, which focused on private governance. Mr. Mitchell is partnered with several additional conservation bodies worldwide working to promote ecosystem approaches to conservation.
Because different protected areas go by different names in different countries, IUCN standardizes language by adopting a system of categories based on management objectives. These include Protected Landscapes/Seascapes (Category V in the schema), which consider natural and cultural landscapes and the interactions that occur between local communities and natural resources. QLF has widely promoted the Category V protected areas model for land and water conservation around the world through workshops, site-specific exchanges of expertise, and a series of publications.
Current QLF landscape efforts include projects in the Gulf of Honduras, where we are helping to build the capacity of local organizations that are providing practical management of resources. This includes management and assessment of the Belize Barrier Reef System, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site but is also on the UNESCO “Danger” list.