Human Wellbeing is a vast concept, functioning at different scales and encompassing innumerable factors. For the C3JV, partners have prioritized Inclusive Conservation as one lens to use in bridging human and ecological wellbeing. Though applied in different ways, Inclusive Conservation is understood by the C3JV and partners as an umbrella approach to conservation that invites, enables, and indeed spotlights new spaces of interaction (e.g. urban), different knowledge systems (e.g. Indigenous) and novel approaches (e.g. food safety) to expand the scope of addressing biodiversity loss. Early efforts to identify key priority needs unique to the Central Coast have resulted in three domains that will shape our approach to building inclusive conservation. However, we recognize through further engagement and relationship building, specific initiatives within these domains, and the domains themselves, will necessarily change to reflect community-derived goals, needs and aspirations as they relate to socio-ecological wellbeing.
The Central Coast is the ancestral homelands of over 20 different Indigenous communities and affiliated groups, representing unbroken lineage-to-place for thousands of years. In recognizing the loss, erasure or diminishment of Indigenous voices in land, water, and wildlife stewardship, the C3JV is working towards: 1) Building self-knowledge and capacity to be in Right Relations with Indigenous Peoples; 2) Advancing opportunities for increased stewardship responsibility by Indigenous communities, including through land protection and Indigenous-led management of landscapes and sacred sites; and 3) Elevating Indigenous knowledge and Ways of Knowing in conservation, restoration and stewardship. Though our efforts are only beginning to take shape, the C3JV is committed to strengthening the relevance of our work for Indigenous communities through respect, responsibility and reciprocity.
Additional Reading and Resources:
Supporting a vibrant agricultural economy, farmworkers are the very backbone of many Central Coast communities. And yet, as the impacts of climate change continue to mount, these communities face some of the gravest repercussions; from saline intrusion in groundwater and coastal flooding in lower estuary communities, to heatwaves, wildlife-inflicted smoke inhalation and loss of economic opportunities with the ever-increasing vulnerability agriculture. With these concerns layered upon already existing environmental and social injustices, the C3JV recognizes a responsibility and opportunity to design conservation strategies that marry sustainable agriculture, healthy working lands and the communities they support, and the myriad of avian and wildlife species dependent upon farmlands. The C3JV seeks to develop partnerships that help prepare underserved communities for climate change impacts, minimize the harmful externalities of agricultural production for both people and wildlife, and cultivate an agricultural economy built on the recognition of socio-ecological wellbeing.
Ultimately, in centering human wellbeing as inseparable from a vibrant and flourishing natural world, rekindling our connection to, respect of, and knowledge about the environments on which we depend becomes an essential domain for the California Central Coast Joint Venture. Whether it is fostering opportunities for place-based learning, applied research, supporting community-based stewardship or a myriad of other forms, the goal simply is to revitalize a sense of responsibility and honor in caring for the lands, waters, animals and communities we are part of. With climate woes, a biodiversity crisis, and continued marginalization experienced by so many within our community, let conservation be a project that seeks remedy across biophysical, ecological and socio-cultural spheres. The C3JV is eager to pursue, support and partner with efforts that champion young naturalists, open doors to conservation for those that find them shut, reimagine urban greenspaces for renewal, and draw connections between community resilience and healthy landscapes. We welcome your imagination, share your ideas on how to advance this intersection between conservation and community health.