Participants in the 2019 Conservation Finance Intensive learned from a dozen experts in innovative conservation finance practices. A new initiative will expand on this course. (Photo: CFN)

Conservation takes money. And it takes knowing how to find it, especially in increasingly complex financing scenarios. 

This week, the National Park Service Chesapeake Office and the Conservation Finance Network (CFN), in collaboration with the Land Trust Alliance and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, announced new support for building conservation finance capacity in the Chesapeake watershed. 

Funding for this initiative, a $115,000 award, is provided by the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. Additional support for the work will be provided by the Land Trust Alliance.

The initiative supports conserving recreational, natural and cultural resources in the Chesapeake watershed through expanding and enhancing capacity for using innovative conservation finance practices. 

There are three key elements to the initiative.

“The Chesapeake Bay watershed is a national treasure. Not just one treasure, but a vast landscape full of hundreds of iconic natural, cultural and recreational gems important to many communities,” says Wendy O’Sullivan, Superintendent of NPS Chesapeake.

“Through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, we connect people with those jewels that are already protected. And, as a co-convener of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership since 2009, we also help others conserve the treasures that remain unprotected. Providing technical assistance to do that is crucial.”

Conservation Finance Intensive:

The partnership will build on a “Conservation Finance Intensive” workshop for Chesapeake watershed land conservation professionals convened by CFN in December 2019. That course aimed to build the knowledge and capacity of more than 30 mid-career land conservation professionals to access increased and more innovative sources of funding and financing for land conservation and restoration.  

The partners will reprise this course February 8-11, 2021 through an engaging virtual workshop. Here’s what a few of last year’s participants thought:

  • “As a small land trust with a new Executive Director, the workshop gave us a strong primer on the conservation finance players and models, both tried and true and emerging, in our watershed. Additionally, we are much better equipped to outline and evaluate conservation finance options for our portfolio of projects.” Kristin Kirkwood, Executive Director, Harford Land Trust (MD)

  • “The Conservation Finance workshop was informative, collegial, and a wonderful opportunity to network with some of the who’s who of the conservation finance world. I’d love to take the extended version of the training!” David Diaz, Director of Land Protection, Otsego Land Trust (NY)

  • “Finding ways to fund conservation work can seem like an uphill battle with limited dollars and lots of competition. This workshop leaves no stone unturned. Whether it’s the philanthropic or regulatory arena, ecosystem services or upcoming markets, revolving funds or pay-for-success models, or some other new and innovative tactic, I guarantee you will come away with something new in your financial toolbox.” Suzy Yetter, Ecologist, ClearWater Conservancy (PA)

Find out more about the upcoming course and how to apply:

Conservation Finance Circuit Riders:

Beginning this winter, the partners will also pilot an expert “circuit rider” program to provide technical assistance to land conservation practitioners for implementing conservation projects. CFN will assemble a small team of circuit riders with deep experience in conservation finance. The team will provide assistance to selected conservation organizations on priority projects. The pilot effort will be used to inform an expanded program in the future.

Assessing Private Capital Investments in Conservation:

CFN will also produce a summary report on the current state of private capital investment in Chesapeake land conservation, restoration, and mitigation. The end product is intended as an opportunity to make the case for accelerating the use of private capital as a funding and financing tool for the region. This will supplement conservation funding information reported in the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership’s 2019 Marking Milestones report.

Conservation of the Chesapeake watershed has been a center of innovation in many ways,” says Leigh Whelpton, CFN Program Director. “But, the scale of land conservation and watershed restoration requires a great deal more resources. Chesapeake states have some of the strongest regulatory drivers for environmental markets, but we are not yet realizing their full potential. This initiative is intended to help put new financing approaches to work.

Don’t forget to send us your 2020 land conservation success stories as they develop. They’ll land in the new and growing collection at, a tool we can all use to show collective impact. See the checklist below for easy-to-follow, simple guidelines.