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* Chicago Wilderness

* Chicago Wilderness

Integrating Biological and Social Diversity in the Urban Garden

(p.362) 28 * Chicago Wilderness
The Social Lives of Forests
Peter CraneLiam HeneghanFrancie MuraskistotzMelinda Pruett-JonesLaurel RossAlaka WaliLynne Westphalcrane
University of Chicago Press

In 1995, 34 public and private organizations joined together to launch an unconventional regional conservation effort, the Chicago Wilderness Initiative, in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. They set themselves the mission of protecting the natural communities in the Chicago region and restoring them to long-term viability, in order to enrich the quality of life of the region's people, and to contribute to the conservation of global biodiversity. The consortium has grown to over 220 public and private member organizations, including federal, state, county, and local agencies, municipalities, conservation organizations, universities, park districts, homeowners associations, faith-based organizations, and schools. The result has been unprecedented cooperation in viewing the metropolitan landscape as a whole and developing Chicago Wilderness as a national and international model for how nature and people can coexist harmoniously in an urban region. Nevertheless, the consortium must continue to evolve as it confronts existing and emerging challenges and opportunities in a complex social and political landscape, which includes the continuing transition to a post-industrial economy, changing demographics, and shifting political alignments among the City and neighboring counties. There remain urgent needs for increased public engagement, improved scientific knowledge and better management of existing “protected areas.”

Keywords:   Chicago, Urban conservation, Public–private conservation, Biodiversity, Metropolitan landscapes, Chicago Wilderness, Urban forests

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