Mayor Anthony "Tony" Christianson seine fishes for salmon in Eek Inlet near Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.
Emerald Edge Fishermen Mayor Anthony "Tony" Christianson seine fishes for salmon in Eek Inlet near Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. © Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy

Emerald Edge | The Nature Conservancy

Emerald Edge: Enabling Conservation Through Economic Development

We're working with communities to develop conservation strategies rooted in economic development for the Emerald Edge.

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How does economic development relate to conservation?

"It’s simple," says Community and Economic Development Lead Tyson Atleo. "One is not possible without the other. Access to sustainable economic opportunities is critical to the well-being of local people. And community wellbeing is critical to conservation success. Large-scale conservation can only be successful and sustainable with the full endorsement and leadership of the local people who have the greatest stake in the outcome. Plus, the happier and healthier people are, the more capacity they have to care about and lead conservation."

Through mentoring, coaching and economic resources, we equip people to strengthen their communities for the long term. We also partner with local industries as they transition to sustainable practices that lead to stability and lasting success.

Large-scale conservation can only be successful and sustainable with the full endorsement and leadership of the local people who have the greatest stake in the outcome.

Tyson Atleo Community and Economic Development Lead

Great Bear Rainforest: Investing in Local Economies

Ernest (Charlie) Mason with son, Ernie Mason (backgroung) looks for jumping salmon in the Kitasoo Bay, a sign that there is a larger school to be caught under the surface. Cha
Klemtu Fishermen Ernest (Charlie) Mason with son, Ernie Mason (backgroung) looks for jumping salmon in the Kitasoo Bay, a sign that there is a larger school to be caught under the surface. Cha © Jason Houston

A unique goal of our work in the Great Bear Rainforest has been to support a resilient coastal economy to underpin meaningful and lasting conservation. To achieve this, we established Coast Funds. With our initial $39-million investment in the Great Bear Rainforest TNC leveraged additional private and public funding, resulting in the $120-million Coast Funds—divided evenly between an endowment to support conservation activities and a sinking fund to drive sustainable economic development. 

As a result of these investments, 45 new businesses and 767 new, permanent jobs have been created in First Nation communities.

Having people of the place who carry with them the knowledge of that place for the last ten thousand years fundamentally changes the types of ideas you come up with for sustainable economic development needs.

Eric Delvin Emerald Edge Program Director
An aerial view of the Ahousaht Nation’s villagein Clayoquot Sound
Emerald Edge Ahousaht Village An aerial view of the Ahousaht Nation’s villagein Clayoquot Sound © Bryan Evans