The Office of the Duke Forest along with its steering committee partners (see list below) from the Eno-New Hope Landscape Conservation Group are thrilled to announce the reception of a 2020 Catalyst Fund Grant of $25,000. Submitted on behalf of the group by the Eno River Association, the Catalyst Fund Grant offered by the Network for Landscape Conservation is a highly-competitive nationwide award given this year to only 13 of the 100 collaborative partnerships that applied. The funding intends to “enable each of these Partnerships to accelerate their efforts to build enduring, place-based, collaborative conservation efforts that protect the ecological, cultural, and community health of the landscapes they call home.”
The Eno-New Hope Landscape Conservation Group (ENH-LCG) consists of local governments, conservation organizations, universities, and ecologists. Members of this group have been working since 2015 to address increasing habitat loss and fragmentation in the Eno River and New Hope Creek watersheds. While the Duke Forest and other protected and managed lands across the landscape provide an anchor of wildlife habitat and ecosystem services (e.g. clean air, clean water, carbon sequestration), these areas have become increasingly isolated and disconnected from other natural spaces—due to road infrastructure, real estate development, and other permanent conversions of land. The habitat and ecosystem service values of these conserved lands, as well as their resilience to climate change, only diminishes as fragmentation increases.
In December 2019, ENH-LCG released A Landscape Plan for Wildlife Habitat Connectivity in the Eno and New Hope Creek Watersheds, North Carolina (read), a 79-page report outlining the results of an analysis that identified opportunities to preserve and restore habitat connectivity in the region. That initial report, which was funded by Partners for Green Growth, led by ecologist Julie Tuttle, Ph.D., and administered by Johnny Randall, Ph.D., NC Botanical Gardens, was announced at the Orange County Environmental Summit.
The report demonstrates the important role of the Duke Forest and other partner lands in maintaining and connecting a natural network that functions for the benefit of both people and animals. Most importantly, it identifies areas of high conservation value that are potentially vulnerable to land use conversions. This work offers critical insight into sustaining the natural spaces and wild things that create a healthy and vibrant environment for all.
The Catalyst Fund award will be used support and strengthen the collaborative effort necessary to achieve landscape conservation by hiring a coordinator and solidifying the group’s partnership structure. The funding will also enable the group to develop a strategic action plan to guide implementation of its existing landscape conservation plan.
Steering Committee Partner List
Eno River Association
Triangle Land Conservancy
Duke University, Office of the Duke Forest
UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina Botanical Garden
Durham County Open Space and Real Estate
Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks & Recreation
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Julie Tuttle, Ph.D., Ecologist