Water & Species Conservation
The Foundation focuses on areas of critical biodiversity that are at particular risk from human development and support programs which promote sustainable land use initiatives, more efficient agricultural practices, better fishing initiatives, livelihood alternatives, and enhanced water quality, in order to mitigate the effects of population growth, human development, and climate change.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The foundation is particularly interested in the Chesapeake Bay watershed because it is the largest estuary in North America, and it remains a system dangerously out of balance and in crisis. Its water and marine life are polluted, its habitats and species have been dramatically reduced, leading to human health risks and declining economic benefits with huge societal costs. The watershed starts as far north as New York, runs through six states and the District of Columbia, and supports more than 3,600 species of animals, plants, birds and fish (and 17 million inhabitants). The health of the Bay has been dramatically compromised due to increased agriculture, development, toxic chemicals, air pollution, sewage, and climate change. One factor that complicates the situation is the Bay’s long ‘residence time’ and low flushing rate. Only 1 percent of the settleable waste that enters the Chesapeake Bay is flushed to the ocean. The remainder settles in the Bay’s waters to form bottom sediment, causing toxic contamination of the many species inhabiting or migrating throughout the Bay.
Its natural low-lying topography coupled with growing coastal populations, rising sea temperatures and sea levels make the Chesapeake Bay especially vulnerable to climate change. Warmer waters have a decreased capacity to hold dissolved oxygen, contributing to the Bay’s fish-killing dead zones, as well as algal blooms. There has been approximately one foot of net sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay over the past 100 years—a rate nearly twice that of the global historic average- resulting in the disappearance of critical wetlands, in storm surges, and flooding of low-lying areas. At least 13 islands have disappeared entirely in the Bay already, with many more at risk. The Foundation supports educational programs and advocacy initiatives that inform policy makers and educates future generations about the value of the watershed as a critical natural resource. The foundation also supports market-based initiatives that promote more sustainable agriculture practices and storm water management.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation is the leader in conducting advocacy, providing education, and collecting research to disseminate awareness about the health of the Chesapeake watershed. CBF works with farmers, watermen, and urban planners to devise more sustainable practices, while recognizing that watermen’s livelihoods are dependent on the Bay, and the interdependence exists between its natural and social systems. CBF informs policymakers and various stakeholders about best practices for agriculture, fishing, land use, toxic chemical and nutrient mitigation, and restoration of habitats. CBF also hosts students, teachers, and adults with hands-on educational experiences that affords them the opportunity to learn about the ecology of the Bay, interact with nature, and discover what they can do to help save the Bay.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. In the Mid-Atlantic region, the health of the Chesapeake Bay and those who depend on it is a priority for The Nature Conservancy. The Bay’s size and complexity compels us to take a collaborative approach with partners across the Bay’s watershed, including farmers and their most trusted advisors in the Agribusiness industry. TNC’s shared vision is to have farmers in two of the most important regions of the Chesapeake Bay–the Delmarva Peninsula and central Pennsylvania–be leaders in delivering clean water to the Bay. TNC does this by working with farmers and industry to implement the most advanced nutrient management practices that will have both economic benefits to them and environmental benefits for the Bay. TNC’s goal is to reduce a million pounds of nutrient and sediment pollution in these areas over the next three years.
Funding for the Chesapeake Bay is more important now than ever to protect this national treasure.