by Autumn Carson

Flanders volunteers looking over a map of FtF wildlife linkages in Woodbury, CT. Photo Credit: Connie Manes

Toward the end of 2022, representatives from Aspetuck Land Trust (ALT) and Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) connected at the September H2H All Partners meeting and discussed potential synergy between ALT’s Green Corridor Initiative and HVA’s Follow the Forest Initiative. Both initiatives began with similar goals in mind: connecting isolated habitats to support the natural movement of wildlife and other biodiversity. The Green Corridor Initiative (GCI) works to link green spaces within developed residential and urban areas to protected natural areas in Southern Connecticut, while Follow the Forest (FtF) focuses on protecting and connecting forests to promote safe passage for wildlife from the Hudson Valley to Canada. While the GCI focuses on connectivity in suburban and urban communities, FtF focuses primarily on suburban, ex-urban and urban communities, helping both groups to broaden their reach. Though not all of their spaces overlap, some of the GCI passages will allow for a flow of flora and fauna into some of the FtF regions, increasing the pace and scale of landscape restoration and protection for biodiversity. In the face of climate change, linking these green spaces transforms habitat fragments into a vast, and unified natural area with greater capacity to support the trees, plants, birds, butterflies, bees, and wildlife we love and need. The connectivity of green spaces supports wildlife and pollinator populations, protects water resources, improves air quality, and provides more opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Following their connection and initial discussion at the H2H meeting, ALT and HVA submitted a proposal to present on their respective initiatives at the upcoming 2023 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference.  During their workshop, Julia Rogers, senior land protection manager of Housatonic Valley Association, Mary Ellen Lemay, land owner engagement manager of Aspetuck Land Trust and colleagues will discuss approaches to corridor conservation, from land protection to stewardship, and their landowner engagement, community science, and education efforts. Participants will also learn how they can implement these strategies in their regions and communities. Both the GCI and FtF seek to tell a story that centers on the relationship between humans and wildlife and empower individuals to contribute directly to their connectivity efforts. You can learn more about their work and how you can get involved on their websites linked above.