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State of Nature

A Call for Conservation Action

In the Northeastern United States

Conservation challenges are growing while dollars are in short supply. As conservationists, it is imperative that we evaluate our successes and failures, take stock of the obstacles ahead, and focus action on the places and strategies most needed to sustain the natural landscapes of the region. Toward that end, The Nature Conservancy undertook a three-year study to objectively gauge the condition and status of the natural world across 13 northeast and mid-Atlantic states. The results of this study is the Conservation Status report. Key findings from this report are presented in the State of Nature fact sheets.


The content of the study was determined by a regional monitoring framework developed by the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and designed to assess the status of the region’s species and habitats. Compiling over 50 region-wide datasets, the study analyzed patterns of conservation, and assessed key indicators of condition for eight important aspects of natural diversity. When combined, these indicators formed a multi-dimensional picture of each aspect of natural diversity, and more than once revealed striking and unexpected patterns.  Highlights of the findings are presented here.


By highlighting the conservation successes and gaps to date, the following fact sheets and accompanying maps aim to spur renewed conservation efforts and direct such efforts to those places most in need of permanent protection - both to secure our region’s unique natural habitats and to ensure permanent homes for wildlife.

Six Key Findings:

Conserved Land
Private conservation has increased extraordinarily and now accounts for over 4 million acres of land, more acreage than the state of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Multiple use easements make up 95% of that land, and only 5% is secured explicitly for nature. Land conversion still surpasses land conservation 2 to 1. (Click for Conservation Land Fact Sheet)

Forest cover has returned to the region, but trees are small, stands are young, and forest patches are highly fragmented by over 732,000 miles of roads. Forests on conservation reserves are indeed older and contain larger trees. Forests on land secured for multiple uses are variable but slightly older than unsecured forests. (Click for Forests Fact Sheet)

Forest Types
Oak-Pine forests are less protected, more fragmented, and changing faster than other forests. Among bird species typical of these forests 22 are declining and 17 are increasing, a more rapid transition in wildlife than seen in other forest types. (Click for Forest Types Fact Sheet)

Estimates suggest that over 25% of our varied wetland habitats have been lost to land conversion. Floodplains urgently need protection being the most converted and least secured wetland type with a ratio of 11 acres converted to every 1 secured for nature. (Click for Wetlands Fact Sheet)

Unique Habitats
Conservation efforts have largely missed the diverse habitats of lowlands and productive soils. Among fertile limestone valleys, 51 acres are converted for every one secured for nature. In contrast, on acidic granite and steep slopes we have secured more land than we have converted. (Click for Unique Habitats Fact Sheet)

Rivers and Streams
The majority of our river miles once existed as huge connected networks over 5000 miles long. Today none of these remain. Streams average 7 dams and 106 road crossings per 100 miles, and 65% have flows altered by human activities. (Click for Rivers and Streams Fact Sheet)


Click for State of Nature Slideshow on

Large Maps:

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