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Louisville Tree Planting The Brightside Organization, The Nature Conservancy, UPS and Brown-Forman partnered to plant 150 trees at Shawnee Park in Louisville, Kentucky. © Devan King/TNC

Cities Stories

A Guide to Conservation in Cities

Sometimes you need a good guide to advance your work.

That’s the aim of the Field Guide to Conservation in Cities in North America to provide guidance to conservation leaders in launching new or expanding existing urban conservation programs and partnerships. The Field Guide offers best practices and shares the collective experience of The Nature Conservancy and Center for Whole Communities from 2014 to 2016, as we initiated a network of urban conservation programs in 12 cities across the United States. 

While The Nature Conservancy has been protecting lands and waters since 1951, the Conservancy and Center for Whole Communities teamed up in 2014 to launch the Cities Network, which is prioritizing urban conservation work in low-income communities.

The Field Guide is a key part of the Network’s initiative. It conveys what we have learned in our first two years by using real-life examples and sharing resources. The Field Guide provides common principles for urban conservation and describes the planning frameworks Conservation by Design 2.0 by the Conservancy and Whole Measures by Center for Whole Communities. It also highlights some of the big-picture considerations that are essential in urban work, including environmental justice and community engagement.

It also addresses the practical aspects of designing an urban conservation program, including sections on creating a plan; monitoring, evaluation and learning; as well as fundraising, marketing and communications. Stories from the field features are incorporated throughout the guide, providing interviews with practitioners from the Cities Network.

Among the many things we’ve learned and share in the Field Guide is that, in urban areas, it’s essential to focus simultaneously on community well-being, environmental health, and the use of natural resources in order to improve quality of life and create conditions for people and nature to thrive.

“Whether you are embarking on a Cities program of your own or seeking relevant guidance for a project you’ve already started, this Guide captures the early stages of an emerging program,” says Meera Bhat, North America Cities Director. “We share what we’ve learned about planning, getting programs off the ground, handling partnerships and promoting engagement.”

The Field Guide to Conservation in Cities was made possible with support from The JPB Foundation.