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Large Landscape Initiatives and the Future of American Land Conservation


Gates Common Room
third floor of Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave. (east of Tutt Library) (map)



As part of the Rockies Project's 2013-14 focus on large landscape conservation, the Project will once again be holding a speakers series on the Colorado College campus throughout the academic year. The lineup of experts in the conservation field come from diverse backgrounds and professions, and will bring a breadth of knowledge to the Project's research and outreach.

Jim Levitt is the director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, Harvard University, based in Petersham, Massachusetts, and a fellow in the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition, he has ongoing fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Highstead, an NGO advancing land conservation in New England. 

Levitt focuses on landmark innovations in the field of land and biodiversity conservation, both present-day and historic, that are characterized by five traits: novelty and creativity in conception, strategic significance, measurable effectiveness, international transferability, and the ability to endure. Such innovations include: the establishment of the first public open space in the English-speaking world in Boston in 1634; the creation of the world's first state and national parks at Yosemite and Yellowstone in 1864 and 1872; the invention of the world's first land trust in Massachusetts in 1891; and the ongoing emergence of landscape-scale conservation initiatives around the globe in the 20th and 21st centuries. In each of these landmark innovations, key factors for success include: the engagement of highly talented social entrepreneurs; the leveraging of some of the most advanced technologies of the day; and the use of inventive financial and organizational tools.

Levitt has written and edited dozens of articles and three books on land and biodiversity conservation. He has lectured widely on the topic in venues ranging from Santiago, Chile to Beijing, China, and Montreal, Canada. Among his current efforts, Levitt is advising colleagues in Chile on the expansion of private land conservation initiatives and enabling legal frameworks in that nation. He is also engaged in an effort to link land conservation innovators at universities, colleges and independent research institutions around the globe.

Large Landscape Initiatives and the Future of American Land Conservation
James Levitt
  • Open to Public: Yes
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Sponsored By: Colorado College State of the Rockies Project
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