WILDLANDS NETWORK was founded in 1991 by leading conservation scientists and advocates alarmed by rising rate of extinctions across North America. Environmental protection was not working. Parks and preserves were too isolated from one another to support functioning ecological systems, and would not be resilient in the face of large-scale changes wrought by climate disruption. Animals, especially wide-ranging species, need Room to Roam™, and lots of it, to locate food, find a mate, and breed.
OUR VISION IS A BOLD ONE: Led by the father of conservation biology, Michael Soulé, Wildlands Network calls for a continental vision and has inspired the environmental movement to think boldly and out of the box of “postage stamp” conservation. Natural systems have been highly fragmented by human activities and the conservation community must not respond by isolated, fragmented planning. Wildlands Network pioneered a new model of prioritizing lands that must be preserved, restored, or connected for the long-term survival of wildlife. When cobbled together, these link up to form wildlife corridors, or Wildways™, that span the continent. These connections can include: public or private lands, farm land, overpass structures, commercial real estate with willing stewardship value…anything that will allow or provide safe passageways for wildlife to travel freely from place to place.
KEYSTONE SPECIES: Just as the keystone in an arch holds the other stones together, keystone species are important species that maintain the integrity of healthy ecosystems. Often, they are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment and have a particularly strong influence over other plants and animals in the ecosystem. For example, when gray wolves were removed from Yellowstone National Park in the mid 1900’s, elk populations soared and over-browsed the vegetation. Aspen and willow disappeared and eventually everything from beavers to songbirds went locally extinct. Wildlands Network is invested heavily in protecting keystone species through our on-the-ground efforts, coalition building and conservation partners, and local, regional, and national policy efforts.