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Zoe Smith’s approach to conservation is grounded in community

The Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program says the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative gives her hope for large-scale landscape conservation. By bringing stakeholders together to find common ground, and delivering the science they need to achieve shared objectives, “The LCC has paved the way for large consortiums to understand what is possible.”
Zoe Smith’s approach to conservation is grounded in community

Zoe Smith, courtesy of Zoe Smith.

When the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was invited to join the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee in 2011, Zoe Smith recognized a natural affinity. “I’ve done a lot of work with community and agency partners,” she said. “We see the value in bringing entities together across lines to achieve common goals.”

With a background in community-based conservation, Smith is accustomed to looking for overlap where others see boundaries. In addition to her role as Director of the WCS’s Adirondack Program, she is a member of the Common Ground Alliance, a regional entity in the Adirondacks created to help resolve common ground issues, and serves as the coordinator for Staying Connected Initiative, a multi-state effort to promote and protect landscape connectivity for wildlife.

So for Smith, the fundamental benefit of the North Atlantic LCC is its ability to foster relationships. “It makes conservation easier across the region,” she said.

Relationships based on shared goals make it possible to answer a key question for landscape conservation: “How do we get science into the hands of people, organizations, and agencies that need it, and can use it?”

She said the North Atlantic LCC's science products are “hugely beneficial” for the conservation community, but to ensure these products are being used to make decisions in the Adirondacks, and beyond, all of the decision makers need to be part of the conversation. The North Atlantic LCC provides a forum for these conversations to happen with participants of all shapes and sizes.

“I have a lot of hope that these partnerships are going to be helpful for groups working regionally and thinking about large landscape conservation,” said Smith.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has been a leader in North American conservation since its founding in 1895. The Society was an early champion for scientific research and policies to support the protection of land and iconic species, from bald eagles to grizzlies to bison. The Adirondack Program was established in 1994 with an interdisciplinary approach linking benefits to humans and wildlife to inform environmental decision-making.

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