The Foundation’s Land Conservation area of focus strives to sustain a healthy Bay Area ecosystem. Many individuals and organizations have worked together to make the San Francisco Bay Area a model urban region that has prospered with a mixture of land uses and conservation. Our efforts support and build on that history.
The Foundation seeks to expand the network of conserved landscapes critical to maintaining natural systems function. Efforts to conserve large-scale landscapes are enhanced when there is coordination across the eco-region, and we endeavor to help groups link their work to achieve regional conservation gains.
To measure progress, the Foundation tracks the number of acres conserved, and, in particular, progress towards protecting sufficient representation of habitat types and necessary connectivity across the region. The program makes grants with these metrics in mind, supporting science-based conservation planning and partnership-building to catalyze a regional approach. Grantmaking also funds pre-acquisition and acquisition (either fee title or easements) of parcels that support regional goals.
The Foundation prioritizes acquisition projects that are grounded on science-based regional conservation planning. Examples of planning frameworks that receive prioritization include the Upland Habitat Goals, the Bay Lands Goals, natural community conservation plans, habitat conservation plans, and other detailed plans that delineate how a project will contribute to meaningful conservation gains over the long-term.
We recognize that open space protection frequently achieves multiple benefits that the community values, including enhancing scenic beauty, reducing sprawl, sustaining local agriculture and more. We value these benefits, and at the same time seek to bring special focus to maintaining healthy ecosystems. Consequently, while the Foundation will take into account multiple values that can be achieved, individual acquisition projects are evaluated on how well they contribute to the following criteria:
large-scale parcels of intact habitat and/or land that expands existing protected areas;
lands that help ensure adequate habitat representation throughout the Bay Area to support lasting ecological integrity and biodiversity;
wetlands and their buffer zones;
lands that play critical roles in watershed functions and processes;
and lands that contain critical wildlife linkages.
To ensure the durability of these efforts, the Foundation also works to delineate connectivity, increase climate change resiliency, and enhance long-term stewardship. A small number of grants are made for scientific research to provide information to support effective stewardship.
The Foundation also seeks opportunities in the Bay Area to implement innovative strategies such as, for example, utilizing carbon credits as a way to achieve conservation gains and other such approaches that move beyond traditional strategies.
To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $124 million in land conservation grants, helping to conserve over 72,000 acres—an area twice the size of the city and county of San Francisco.