Nature Abounds, a national environmental nonprofit, recently acquired Natural Biodiversity, a regional program focused on habitats and landscaping in the Kiski-Conemaugh watershed. The program was previously managed by the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy.
Natural Biodiversity is the newest program under the Nature Abounds umbrella, which also includes signature programs like the Senior Environment Corps, Watch the Wild, IceWatch USA, Turtle Ambassadors, and Climate Change Ambassadors. In the future, the program will engage Nature Abounds supporters in habitat and landscaping opportunities across the country.
“We are really excited to have the Natural Biodiversity program under our umbrella are are looking forward to transitioning it from a regional program to a national one,” said Nature Abounds president Melinda Hughes. “Natural Biodiversity has already engaged over 100,000 people in conservation education programs, mobilized 2,500 people in environmental service learning, and restored various tracts of land through habitat restoration and invasive species control at the regional level. Just thinking about the significant impact we will have at the national level is astonishing.”
The program will be led by Douglas M. Beri, who has worked for both Nature Abounds and Natural Biodiversity. “Through my experience with both organizations, I feel there is an organic fit for Natural Biodiversity and Nature Abounds,” said Beri. “Natural Biodiversity embodies the heart of local grassroots nonprofit environmentalism which will be fundamental in advancing its focus through a national landscape as well as that of Nature Abounds. I am greatly humbled to have the opportunity to be part of such a great merger and new direction for both organizations!”
Natural Biodiversity’s past accomplishments include:
- Several habitat restoration projects, including one at the Park of 1889 in St. Michael, Pennsylvania, which engaged over 270 volunteers who planted over 900 individual plants, representing more than 50 native Pennsylvania plant species.
- Invasive species education through the creation of a BioBullies educational supplement for schools. The supplement includes a website where educators can access exceptional resources to incorporate invasive species education into their classrooms.
- Development of a landscape-based predictive model, in conjunction with West Virginia University, to prioritize invasive species management activities in the Kiski-Conemaugh Watershed. The model utilized geographic data verified with site surveys to determine a site’s susceptibility to invasive species. The model can now be used to predict where invasive plants are likely to spread, aiding in early detection and rapid response activities in localized watersheds.
- Serving as a local National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Habitat Stewarship Ambassador host.
According to Hughes, people will start seeing changes to the Natural Biodiversity and Nature Abounds websites immediately, and the merging of the program will take place over the next several months. “We also hope to reach out to past supporters of Natural Biodiversity and engage them in our efforts moving forward,” Hughes said.