Middlebury College is the first recipient of a new award for academic institutions fostering innovative land conservation, in recognition of the college’s protection of its 2,100-acre Bread Loaf Campus in Vermont. Academics for Land Protection in New England (ALPINE), a land conservation network based at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University, will present the Charles H.W. Foster Award for Exemplary Academic Leadership in Land Conservation next month.
The award honors Charles H.W. Foster, the distinguished conservation leader and mentor who passed away several years ago. He was a key player in the establishment of both the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, the first Secretary of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the first full-time executive directors of The Nature Conservancy, the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a beloved lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School’s Environment and Natural Resources Program. He was also a close collaborator with generations of program managers at the Lincoln Institute focused on land conservation.
Middlebury was selected for the inaugural award based on three criteria: outstanding effort to protect a landscape of high environmental and cultural significance; the high level of engagement of all stakeholders; and the far-reaching and lasting impact on the integrity and connectivity of conserved landscapes. On February 22, 2016, ALPINE will convene an award ceremony at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts to celebrate the successful initiative undertaken by Middlebury College to conserve its Bread Loaf Campus for its ecological and forestland values as well as educational and recreational uses. Middlebury's Bread Loaf initiative was financed both internally and through a matching gift from Middlebury alumnus Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation. The award event will be co-sponsored by the Harvard Forest, Harvard Kennedy School’s Environment and Natural Resources Program, Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership and the Lincoln Institute.
In the early twenty-first century, it will take initiative from all hands -- including innovators from the public, private, civic, academic sectors -- to address the immense environmental challenges we face, including climate change and landscape fragmentation, says Jim Levitt, manager of land conservation programs at the Lincoln Institute, and editor of the book Conservation Catalysts. Academic institutions in New England, where much of the theory and practice of conservation and environmental protection emerged in the United States, have a great deal to offer in addressing these challenges. To tap the energy and initiative of colleges, universities and research stations across the region, the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative, based at the Harvard Forest (a research and educational unit of Harvard University) took the lead, alongside the Highstead Foundation and the Lincoln Institute, in forming ALPINE. The organization’s mission is to encourage the faculty, students, administration, staff and alumni of institutions of higher education across New England to become significantly engaged in the conservation of land across the region.