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Bullard Spotlight: Laura Johnson and Global Conservation Practice

April 1, 2014
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Laura Johnson, Harvard Bullard Fellow

Each month, we feature research by one of Harvard Forest's Charles Bullard Fellows. This month, we're highlighting Laura Johnson, who over the past three decades has served as a land conservationist working first with The Nature Conservancy, and then as president of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Johnson's project as a Bullard Fellow reflects on the influential tools and practices pioneered by United States land conservation leaders over the past past 30 years. The 1,700 land trusts in the United States today have protected 47 million acres of land for purposes including forests, biodiversity, natural habitat, agriculture, recreation, wetlands, urban parks, historic, scenic and cultural values. Johnson's research seeks to better understand how conservationists outside the US are adapting these tools and practices and applying them to opportunities and challenges elsewhere around the world--specifically in Chile, Germany, Quebec and Australia. From her work, a model is emerging that includes a framework of legal, financial, and organizational elements that are needed to grow and sustain private land conservation activity regardless of geography. 

One of the things that drew Johnson to the Harvard Forest for a Bullard Fellowship was our focus on the interface between science and conservation policy. She explains, "Harvard Forest is an under-appreciated resource for work on policy and related matters that affect forest conservation and broader land-use issues. Researchers at or affiliated with Harvard Forest are doing really interesting work on land-use change, and how what we choose to do today to protect land and resources is crucially important for our future. Its especially interesting to be here as the Changes to the Land report for Massachusetts was published."

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