Collaborative Conservation Communities

What is a Collaborative Conservation Community?

Collaborative Conservation Communities - we sometimes call them Clusters - are locally led and driven groups, which consist of organizations and individuals working together on common conservation and stewardship goals. Clusters form and grow in response to the needs of local communities and partners. Clusters increase communication and resource-sharing among individuals and organizations that either are, or aspire to be, stewards of local lands and waters in a targeted geographic area. Clusters serve as sub-networks on a scale that allows frequent face-to-face interaction and informal conversation.

You can download a comprehensive list of communities here:

Contact List

What do Clusters do?

Clusters have two main areas of focus: 1) on the ground conservation action and planning, and 2) educating community members in conservation issues, techniques and other relevant topics. With assistance from TSN staff and partners, each Cluster focuses on local conservation issues and plans to address those concerns through implemented action. Clusters also provides unique education opportunities through events, workshops, activities and online networking to share ideas, information, skills and resources to enable local groups to increase their capacity to care for local natural areas. Cluster partners, with support and input from TSN staff, determine the activities the Cluster will engage in. Clusters typically:

  • Develop conservation plans and implement real on-the-ground action
  • Plan trainings and workshops
  • Hold workdays
  • Hold on-line discussion forums to learn from people who are experienced in natural areas protection
  • Create tool-sharing programs, and other activities that improve efficiency
  • Pool resources to hire common stewardship crews
  • Share the expertise of its members to make the entire Stewardship Network stronger
  • Help with grants and fundraising events to fund the conservation activities

Who participates in Clusters?

Participants in Clusters typically include:

  • Area land conservancies/trusts
  • Parks departments
  • Other local government units, such as municipal and township staff
  • Corporate landowners
  • Volunteers
  • Tribal groups
  • Private businesses
  • Individual volunteer stewards and landowners
  • Non-Profit organizations
  • Other organizations and individuals interested in protecting natural areas

What do we gain by participating in a Cluster?

Potential gains for groups participating in Clusters include:

  • Access to the volunteers, expertise, and resources of each member organization and group
  • Restoration of land in a local area
  • General education of residents and continued education of members and interested individuals
  • A network of interested individuals and groups with whom we can share information and questions
  • Energy/Support/Inspiration for stewardship work on land in a local area. This could also be extended to others embarking on similar work near and far
  • Management Planning, both to gain the skills of management planning, and to develop management plans for specific areas
  • Completed projects
  • Funding opportunities for all participants
  • Outreach and awareness for member organizations and the work they do; of the land itself; of the flora and fauna that are part of the land; and of our region and its meaning to people who live there
  • Increased dialogue about a variety of issues and topics, such as burning techniques, invasive species, and working with volunteers
  • Information about our natural areas webcasts and the ability to help determine the topics

What is the Cluster Coordinator Summit?

The Stewardship Network's annual Cluster Summit is a unique opportunity for peer learning; building authentic relationships; and increasing the depth and breadth of our knowledge about how to connect, equip and mobilize people and organizations to care for land and water in their communities. Cluster Coordinators can expect to learn from each other, share their knowledge, focus on the growth of TSN and on their own growth as community leaders. The relationships built and the learning that happens here are critical for the sustainability of strategic community based conservation efforts. The Cluster Summit schedules time for structured, content-based presentations geared to help Cluster Coordinators deepen their skills; formal and informal networking time; and tours of local management projects. This overnight experience is held in a retreat setting nestled in the midst of managed natural areas.

What about CWMAs, CISMAs, and PRISMs? How can existing regional invasive species partnerships tap into the strengths of the Cluster model?

TSN works with existing regional invasive species partnerships to support, expand, and deepen the impact of invasive species efforts in the community.

The Collaborative Conservation Community model allows for any issue to be the focus of a collaborative community partnership.

In an environment of increasing needs and decreasing funding, TSN's processes, programs, tools, and systems are strategically positioned to facilitate and create a broad-landscape impact.

As a MISGP partner, TSN hosts the web presence for several CISMAs in the area, including the Oakland County CISMA, the Lake St. Clair CISMA, the SW x SW CISMA and the C.A.K.E. CISMA.

How do I start a Collaborative Conservation Community?

TSN has a well documented process for starting and launching new Collaborative Conservation Communities.

Start a Community

TSN welcomes the conversation about how to bring the benefits of the Collaborative Conservation Community model to an existing regional invasive species partnership. Contact us at staff@stewardshipnetwork.org

TSN also supports several programs that are available to existing regional invasive species partnerships:

- Annual Science, Practice, and Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems Conference

- Annual Garlic Mustard Challenge

- Events Calendar

- Monthly Webcast