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Conservation Landscapes

Throughout Pennsylvania, seven large regions are working together to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects.

Known as conservation landscapes, these collaborations are found in regions where there are strong natural assets, local readiness and buy-in, and state-level investment and support.

Founded on the regions’ sense of place and resource values, conservation landscapes motivate citizens and elected officials to take on the challenge of effective land use planning, investment, civic engagement, and revitalization.

What makes a region a conservation landscape?

Driven by the values of conservation, sustainability, and community revitalization, conservation landscapes are built on several ingredients:

  • Presence of DCNR-owned lands -- Large blocks of state parks and forests provide the foundation for the landscape and a staffing presence
  • Sense of place -- Regions with a sense of place and identity in many cases are based on shared landscape not political boundaries
  • Readiness -- Often driven by opportunity or threats such as changes in the economic base, depopulation, or sprawl
  • Engagement -- Civic engagement process that brings people of the region together to identify common values and concerns
  • Strategic investments -- State agencies with regional and statewide partners provide high-level leadership, financial support, and technical assistance to build better communities, to conserve identified values and to invest in “sustainable” economic development

Conservation Landscapes in Pennsylvania

There are currently seven conservation landscape partnerships within Pennsylvania:

  • Pennsylvania Wilds -- Heralding the significant outdoor experiences and rural community character found in a 12-county region in northcentral and northwestern Pennsylvania
  • Poconos Forests and Waters -- Focusing on land protection and history in two distinct areas in Pike, Monroe, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, and Carbon counties
  • Lehigh Valley Greenways -- Using greenways and trails to connect natural and cultural resources in Lehigh and Northampton counties
  • Schuylkill Highlands -- Protecting trails and lands in some of the state’s most populated communities in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lebanon, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties
  • Susquehanna Riverlands -- Conserving the greenway corridor of river lands along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster and York counties
  • South Mountain -- Highlighting the natural, aesthetic, historic, cultural, community, agricultural, and recreational resources in southcentral Pennsylvania
  • Laurel Highlands -- Conserving and promoting the recreational and cultural aspects of an area in southwestern Pennsylvania defined by three Allegheny Plateau ridges and portions of several watersheds