This Earth Day, seven environmental organizations in Western and Central Massachusetts are encouraging their communities to help conserve the land that supports us all.
The third annual Give Back to the Land Day on Friday, April 22, will be a 24-hour online giving day to raise funds for seven local land trusts that work to conserve trails, forests, farms, and waterways in Massachusetts.
Community members are invited to visit givebacktotheland.org to learn about the work of local land trusts and donate to one or more of the organizations. Generous donors are matching online donations made before midnight on April 22.
This year, North County Land Trust, based in Leominster, and Pascommuck Conservation Trust, based in Easthampton, will join the other land trusts — Berkshire Natural Resources Council based in Pittsfield, Franklin Land Trust based in Shelburne Falls, Hilltown Land Trust based in Ashfield, Kestrel Land Trust based in Amherst, and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust based in Athol — to host the third year of this Earth-Day-themed online giving day.
“Pascommuck Conservation Trust is certainly excited about participating in our very first ‘Give Back to the Land’ fundraiser event this year,” said John Bator, President of Pascommuck Conservation Trust. “Doing so opens new windows of opportunity, and by partnering with other local conservation organizations, we stand a much better chance to protect what truly sustains us – our precious natural environment.”
Each of the seven land trusts that are part of Give Back to the Land serves a distinct geographic area in Western and Central Massachusetts, but often collaborate on projects that join their regions. Kestrel Land Trust has partnered with Pascommuck Conservation Trust on projects in Easthampton, and has collaborated with Hilltown Land Trust and Franklin Land Trust to protect more than 5,000 acres of forests over the past decade.
“At a time when life on a global scale feels anything but normal, we need sources of hope and inspiration, which is what nature can provide. Everyone, in every community, deserves access to all the benefits that nature and the land offers. The land is not a luxury for some, but rather a necessity for all,” said Kristin DeBoer, Executive Director of Kestrel Land Trust. “That’s why we’re excited about the new land trust partners who have joined us to expand the impact of Give Back to the Land day.”
The theme of this year’s Earth Day celebration is “Invest in Our Planet,” stressing the power individuals have to make a real difference for the Earth.
“Our natural world is programmed for reacting and adapting to changes in the environment,” said Anna Wilkins, Executive Director of North County Land Trust. “So if we are able to protect land and water resources now, and allow Nature to ‘do its thing,’ we will all benefit from the real and tangible services intact natural communities provide such as water filtration and retention.”
The science around the benefits of conserving agriculture and woodlands for addressing climate change has become increasingly clear.
By conserving valuable farmland, ensuring young and diverse farmers can access land, and focusing on regenerative growing practices, we create resilient local food systems in our communities that help the climate crisis while feeding our growing populations.
Everyone, in every community, deserves access to all the benefits that nature and the land offers. The land is not a luxury for some, but rather a necessity for all.” – Kristin DeBoer, Kestrel Land Trust Executive Director
“Small family farms are the cornerstone of rural living,” said Emma Ellsworth, Executive Director of Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. “They connect us to the love and care that is necessarily involved in producing the food we eat. When we drink a glass of locally sourced milk, or bite into a tomato that was picked that morning by a familiar face, we are doing more than nourishing our bodies. We are nourishing our soul and our community.”
“Forests help improve the air we breathe and store and capture carbon from the atmosphere. Western and Central Massachusetts have the largest blocks of unbroken forest land in the Commonwealth, and conserving these spaces is vital to our ability to weather the effects of a changing climate,” stated Sally Loomis, Hilltown Land Trust Executive Director.
“We are reminded every day of how much we depend upon local resources for our food, clean air, and clean water. Much of the world is having to deal with the lack of these essentials on a crisis basis, and once the balance of nature is compromised, it is very difficult to restore,” comments Franklin Land Trust Executive Director Tom Curren. “Here in rural Massachusetts, we have a golden opportunity to secure the integrity of our landscape…but we have to act now. This is the job of the local land trust; through your generosity we can play a role in protecting the land that sustains all life.”