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Central Appalachians

How We Work

Protect Critical Habitats
Land ownership in the Central Appalachians can be highly complex, often with different owners for various mineral layers beneath a different owner of the surface of a property. Consequently, simply buying a biologically important parcel often is not enough to protect it. Given such complexity, we work with public and private landowners to encourage them to conserve the best habitats in their control. We help landowners understand the crucial role of fire in nature and assist them to reintroduce it responsibly. We seek innovative ways to derive voluntary funding from companies to help restore forests, streams and rivers damaged by mineral extraction. And we work with federal agencies to allocate funding for protection and restoration of native systems on vast public lands.

Build a Resilient Network
Once we have identified the most important “stages” upon which nature is still acting in relative health and abundance, we then try to connect those stages to each other. If they have multiple stages set aside, the odds improve that any given species can persist somewhere. If organisms have opportunities to transition to higher or lower altitudes, and shift laterally as required, they will also have a better chance to survive in the face of multiple threats. Conservancy scientists are working hard to identify the most important corridors and the most resilient network of stages, which we and partners can then strive to maintain.

Minimize Impacts from Invasive Species
Forest and aquatic communities are under assault from all manner of invasive insects, animals, blights, diseases, plants and trees from all over the planet. These invasive pests and diseases know no boundaries. They attack across the landscape on public and private lands with equal severity. The Nature Conservancy’s ability to address these threats depends upon building effective partnerships that coordinate to increase funding for research to learn how to slow their spread, implements practices to address outbreaks, and pursues policy changes that promote quarantines and controls.

Reduce Energy Impacts
Mountaintop removal for coal extraction, industrial-scale wind power facilities, thousands of natural gas wells with attending roads and water use, and even potential geothermal projects all threaten the viability of the Central Appalachians’ natural systems. The Nature Conservancy wants to enable companies to produce the energy we need in less destructive ways. Techniques include: identifying and mapping the most important ecological communities threatened by energy development; attempting to make stakeholders aware that energy is not the only economic value at play because nature is crucial to economic well-being; looking at ways to minimize impacts from energy development and how to offset any damage; and looking far into the future to design restoration strategies for the time when the Central Appalachians energy boom is inevitably finished.

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