KANE, Pa., Feb. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Achievements made in the Pennsylvania Wilds, a 13-county region designated as a Conservation Landscape by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), were recently highlighted in a report by the state agency.
DCNR's 2019 Pennsylvania Conservation Landscapes -- Models for Successful Collaboration report shares the results of a recent evaluation of the agency's Conservation Landscape program. The report also highlights landscape efforts and best practices being used to achieve conservation and revitalization goals.
"The Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Landscape (PAWCL) is one of the most ambitious landscape-level initiatives in the United States," the report notes, pointing to the rural region's success in attaining investments to grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem. "This highly impactful practice is most evident in the Pennsylvania Wilds conservation landscape, a very rural place with more public land than anywhere in the state."
The report, which points to the growing outdoor recreation industry and strategic investments in public lands and facilities in the Pennsylvania Wilds, positions the region as a model for how the Conservation Landscape program is gaining traction and creating real value for communities.
The PA Wilds Center's work has grown 900 percent over the last five years, visitor spending in the region has grown to $1.8 billion annually, and small businesses in the Center's primary business development network -- the Wilds Cooperative of PA -- have created 99 jobs over the last two years. In addition, the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania has grown to include over 300 businesses and organizations from across the region. Several artisans are also seeing economic benefits from selling their products at the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, where 90 percent of the products sold are regionally made by small businesses — boosting local economies and fostering community pride.
While each Conservation Landscape is unique, the goal of the initiative is to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects. A unique approach to regional development based on natural assets and sense of place, the efforts are carried out by external lead partners across eight identified Conservation Landscapes in Pennsylvania. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. is the external lead for the Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Landscape.
There are a total of eight Conservation Landscapes throughout Pennsylvania, including: Laurel Highlands, Lehigh Valley Greenways, Pennsylvania Wilds, Pocono Forest and Waters, Schuylkill Highlands, South Mountain, Susquehanna Riverlands and Kittatinny Ridge.
SOURCE PA Wilds Center