Extending through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Central Appalachians landscape provides refuge to important plant and animal species, purifies drinking water for millions of Americans, and acts as the lungs of the East by filtering the air we breathe. The forests, wild rivers and scenic mountain vistas of the Central Appalachians support natural diversity that few temperate places on Earth can rival.
As population expands, natural spaces such as the Central Appalachians play an ever more important role in meeting basic human needs and helping communities near and far to thrive. Yet the region faces tremendous pressure from energy development, urban sprawl, invasive species and climate change.
The Nature Conservancy’s Central Appalachians program has identified two priority areas crucial to protecting this landscape:
- Smart resource development—The world’s needs for food, water, and energy are growing. And, along with its rich biodiversity, the Central Appalachians is home to abundant energy resources including coal, natural gas, wind and other renewables. During the next two decades, energy and mining companies will invest billions in new projects in the Central Appalachians. The Nature Conservancy knows that making better decisions about energy development can protect the biological and cultural riches our mountains safeguard. Read more about the Conservancy’s work on energy issues across the United States.
- Protected and restored habitats on public lands—The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is the single largest forest manager in the Central Appalachians; and state lands make up large portions of our priority areas. The Nature Conservancy is working in partnership with state and federal entities to restore America’s forests across the region and protect these open spaces for future generations. Learn more about the importance of forest protection and restoration and what the Conservancy is doing.