Why Bird Conservation?
The mission of the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) is to protect the natural integrity of the Finger Lakes region of Central New York. In its twelve-county service area, the land trust manages over thirty nature preserves. According to Executive Director Andrew Zepp, the land trust’s origins are deeply rooted in birds and bird conservation.
Spotlight Resource: Important Bird Areas
When acquiring land and conservation easements, the Finger Lakes Land Trust gives special attention to properties falling within Important Bird Areas. The National Audubon Society designates Important Bird Areas for breeding, wintering, and/or migrating birds.
The feasibility of any given project, including management needs and finances, is also assessed along with the proximity of the new tract to any existing tracts of conservation land. To improve the likelihood of conservation success, the land trust focuses on landscapes that are recognized for multiple ecological and social values. When more than one public constituency is invested in the land for various reasons (e.g., rare flora and fauna, water resources, recreation, or preservation), there is more support and opportunity for land protection.
Because Important Bird Areas help to guide its conservation efforts, the land trust can better connect with birders. Engaging birders builds a strong network of support because of the birding world’s immense, organized, and connected community. With the Cornell Lab of Ornithology based in the region, additional resources and advice are also readily available.
Funding is always a concern for land trusts, and the Finger Lakes Land Trust’s focus on Important Bird Areas has helped in part. Their emphasis on bird conservation has helped them to be successful in securing funds for habitat management both through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
What’s Next For Us?
While a primary focus of the land trust is to maintain the integrity of landscapes for breeding birds, migrating birds that pass through also reap the benefits of habitat conservation. Local rarities, such as some of the northernmost breeding warblers and migratory species, draw birders, volunteers, and citizen science participants alike to the lands. With more support from birders and bird conservation resources to tap into, the Finger Lakes Land Trust is looking to expand and continue bird conservation projects for the improvement of the habitat and the protection of the natural areas and species.
Note: The Cornell Lab is proud to have Executive Director Andrew Zepp serving on the Advisory Team of our Land Trust Initiative. We appreciate the helpful advice from this experienced land trust leader who works in our backyard.