A transnational need for collaboration
The Northern Appalachian-Acadian-Wabanaki ecoregion has a long history of habitat fragmentation and alteration brought about by human settlement, namely extensive deforestation from the region’s agricultural era. Although recovering, the forest ecosystem is still fragile and remains highly vulnerable to increasing development in the area and modern-day biodiversity threats such as forest ownership fragmentation, airborne pollutants, and climate change.
The transnational nature of the ecoregion introduces unique challenges and opportunities for collaboration between Canadian and U.S. governments. As of 2001, no clear precedent for sharing conservation information and strategies between the two countries existed. Conservationists and agencies on either side of the border were not fully aware of the conservation history, regulatory differences, or priority concerns of one another.
In light of increasing pressures on the ecoregion, various stakeholders began to understand the ecological imperative to practice landscape conservation across the ecoregion, rather than allowing an international border to water down conservation efforts. In the fall of 2001, the EJLB Foundation and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation brought together key conservationists and scientists from the Northern Appalachian-Acadian-Wabanaki ecoregion. Based on the conversations and valuable insights gained through this transborder collaboration, another meeting was called for the next year.
Two Countries, One Forest is born
In 2002, the gathering expanded to include 50 scientists, conservationists, and funders, who over two days adopted a preliminary vision and mission statement to achieve their shared conservation goals for the region. Out of these meetings, Two Countries, One Forest (2C1Forest) was born, promising to be the glue holding together various stakeholders through inspiration, collaboration, and implementation.
Since then, 2C1Forest has researched, planned, and implemented several high-impact initiatives across the Northern Appalachian-Acadian-Wabanaki ecoregion. Emphasis on landscape connectivity and a vested interest in the health of all ecosystems, human and nonhuman, U.S. and Canadian, has empowered a unified approach to conservation that transcends political boundaries. After all, we may be two countries, but we all care about the same forest.