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(Sample of a newsletter for the Nova Scotia Nature Trust,
a non-profit organization.)

(back to samples)

Saving The Face
Of North America
The Exponential Growth of Land Conservation

A simple parable illustrates the importance of individual action:

A little girl is walking along the beach, hand-in-hand with an adult. She sees a starfish, dying on the beach a few feet from the water. Feeling compassion for it, she throws it back into the ocean so that it will live. Naturally, the adult feels compelled to point out the futility of this exercise. Given that there are thousands of starfish scattered on the beach, dying, what difference would it make, to throw that starfish back?

"Yes, I know," the little girl replies confidently, "but it made a difference to that starfish."

To extend the parable: what if other people come along and do the same thing? Then it's not just one starfish which has been saved; it's two, then three, then four. Eventually, it translates into thousands of starfish that get saved, and a powerful trend is started.

The Nova Scotia Nature Trust, established a mere six years ago in 1993, could be considered relatively small, as most non-profit land trust organizations are. Nonetheless, as it continues to grow and to acquire more land and make its mark on Nova Scotia, it is a small but vital part of a powerful, growing trend in land conservation in North America. The Land Trust Alliance, an American national umbrella organization established in 1982 to provide strong leadership and education in land conservation, recently released their 1998 National Land Trust Census. The following statistics show how the land conservation movement is growing exponentially in the USA, especially in the ten years between the 1988 census and the 1998 census.

These statistics are for the United States only. Regrettably, Canada does not have a similar organization which would document our own land conservation trends. However, anectodal evidence suggests that Canada's experiences are similar to those of USA in this respect.

    • Land trusts in 1998 held more than 7,000 conservation easements, protecting nearly 1.4 million acres. This represents an astonishing 400 percent increase in the amount of land thus conserved in the ten years between censuses;
    • A new land trust is established per week to conserve local and regional land, marking the growth of new land trusts as the fastest growing segment of the conservation movement;
    • As of 1998, 4.7 million acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat, trails and recreational areas, as well as farm and forest land and fragile natural areas, is now protected by American land trusts. Given that 2.0 million acres of land was protected ten years earlier, this represents a 135 percent increase in acreage of land being preserved for the future;
    • Of the 4.7 million acres of land thus protected above, almost 1 million acres have been conserved as park land, wildlife refuges and green spaces, providing pleasure for people and protection for animals and plants;
    • 1,213 local and regional land trusts currently work to conserve land - 63 percent more than the 743 land trusts that existed ten years earlier.

NEXT PAGE: The skyrocking popularity of land trusts, and why this trend is all the more remarkable