Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose Challenge

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chicago Wilderness - Urban Ecology on a Grand Scale

I was wishing I could attend the annual Ecological Society of America conference this morning. I felt really bad when I learned there would be a special session on Studying Chicago Wilderness: An Urban Conservation Model as a Regional Interdisciplinary Laboratory.

Come to find out Chicago Wilderness is an organization - a 12-year-old consortium of 225 member organizations working together with the common mission of conserving the biodiversity of the Chicago metropolitan region. Chicago Wilderness is a regional nature reserve that includes more than 225,000 acres of protected natural lands. It stretches from southeastern Wisconsin, through northeastern Illinois and into northwestern Indiana.

The protected lands in Chicago Wilderness are forest preserves, state parks, federal lands, county preserves, and privately owned lands. There are also many unprotected natural areas that offer refuge to native wildlife. This is an urban ecology and conservation group – a large one. The coalition works together to develop and implement a comprehensive regional plan for biodiversity conservation which connects multiple landowners, as well as scientific and educational institutions, and engages the region's citizens in ecological restoration and biological monitoring. Wow! Isn’t that exciting?

The session at the conference will cover topics such as historical overview, key projects in conservation planning, education, and progress on developing research agendas in natural and social sciences. I wish I was there.

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