Life on the Emerald Edge

Vibrant indigenous and local communities with the power to secure a prosperous future where ancient forests stand, wild salmon run, and the vital connections between people and nature thrive for generations to come.  

The people! The rainforest! The wildlife! The Emerald Edge is teeming with life.  

Never heard of the Emerald Edge? Take a virtual tour using our interactive map. 

Enter the Emerald Edge

With your support, The Nature Conservancy is empowering community-led conservation to protect old growth forests, wild salmon runs and a close-knit web of life, as the region faces unprecedented threats.  

Learn more about the place, peril and opportunity. 

How we’re working: 

  • Community well-being: We’re putting the priorities of indigenous and local people first. 

  • Partnership: Being an invited partner gives us a unique opportunity at a critical time. 

  • Scale: Together we’re scaling up to make a transformational impact. 

  • Science: Our science serves as a wayfinder on the path to sustainable futures. 

  • Results: We’re addressing the priorities of the people who call this place home. 

  • Commitment: We’re thinking forward to the next 500 years.  

Give to the Emerald Edge

With your gift, we can conserve the largest temperate rainforest in the world
and help the people and wildlife who make it their home.


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More Stories from the Edge


Cover photo by Jon McCormack

The Emerald Edge is the largest intact coastal rainforest on Earth.
Its 100 million acres of majestic lands, waters and wildlife are a global treasure of epic biodiversity now struggling from threats to the environment in coastal Washington, British Columbia and Alaska.

For thousands of years, more than 35 indigenous communities have called this place home, with cultures deeply rooted in the vital connection between people and nature. Their livelihoods depend on natural resources now at risk from boom-and-bust cycles of unsustainable development. 

Here’s a look at how The Nature Conservancy is working on this global priority at a pivotal time:

Community Well-being

We’re putting the priorities of indigenous and local people first.

The Hydaburg Totem Park, established in 1939, preserves the totemic art of Pacific Northwest Haida people. Photo by Erika Nortemann/TNC

The Emerald Edge is home to indigenous and local communities whose lives are deeply connected to its land and waters, and whose survival depends on a sustainable forest and ocean ecosystem. We listen first, then work in direct response to their priorities, and with respect for their social, cultural and economic interests. Knowing that conservation succeeds when communities are strong, we are:

  • Investing in youth — the people’s first priority and the key to sustainable conservation: We support innovative programs that are getting young people out on the land, connecting them with elders, helping them build strong ties with their language and culture and preparing them to take on the responsibilities and authority to lead indigenous lands.
  • Generating new wealth and long-term economic resources in harmony with nature: We help entrepreneurs grow and we develop job opportunities for local people to steward their own lands and manage their natural resources. Through mentoring, coaching and economic resources, we help people build sustainable businesses and careers that strengthen their communities for the long term.
  • Partnering with local industries to help transform their practices toward sustainability, increasing their stability and certainty of long-term success.
  • Creating new (peer) connections across the Emerald Edge so that people can learn from each other, share new ideas, and compare results: These connections are accelerating change and strengthening local decision-making authority.
  • Setting the stage for emerging leaders to succeed: We’re expanding the local leadership capacity — so vital to the future — helping to ensure that emerging leaders are prepared to execute their authority on the land and lead their communities in a changing world.
  • Securing community access to crucial resources: In support of strengthened resource rights and their transfer to the community, we provide indigenous communities with mapping, access to capital and teams with expertise in tenures, licenses and other types of resource rights.

Partnership

Being an invited partner gives us a unique opportunity at a crucial time.

In working along the Pacific Northwest coast for more than 50 years, we have earned a place at the table with the local peoples crucial to the future of the Emerald Edge. We work in a spirit of honesty, humility and appreciation for the knowledge and authority of the indigenous peoples who call this place home. As a welcome partner, we:

  • Support the authority and land stewardship of indigenous peoples to promote sustainable economic development.
  • Provide local partners the benefits of our track record in large-scale conservation, science, planning and sustainable economic development.
  • Partner with local industries to help transform their practices toward sustainability.
  • Seek common ground for people and nature to thrive.
  • Provide a critical mass of resources to create the conditions for sustainability on a large scale.
  • Commit to staying the course with our partners — doing what it takes to ensure long-term results.

Scale

Together, we’re scaling up to make a transformational impact.

Across the Emerald Edge, we are helping to mobilize community-led conservation on an unprecedented scale for people and nature. Building on our experience around the world and on regional successes, such as the Great Bear Rainforest, we develop and partner on strategies that expand the groundswell of support for a sustainable future. Our ability to help communities scale up quickly and effectively serves as a model for others doing conservation work around the world. We are:

  • Sharing the depth of our knowledge and experience as a global organization — our central science team, our success supporting indigenous communities around the world and our ability to build visibility and support on a bigger stage.
  • Helping indigenous communities identify and expand on sustainable economic opportunities by providing coaching, tools, access to capital for business development and payment for ecosystem services.
  • Solving large-scale, interconnected environmental challenges — the close-knit natural networks of land, water, wildlife and air that span manmade borders.
  • Building important relationships with public and private partners that can rapidly expand impact.
  • Expanding our league of visionary supporters to include human-rights advocates with a passion for resolving indigenous land rights.

Science

Members of the Haida tribe perform fish surveys on streams at Keat's Inlet on Prince of Wales Island. Streams that provide proof as good salmon habitat can be protected at the highest level by the state of Alaska. Photo by Erika Nortemann/TNC

Our science serves as a wayfinder on the path to sustainable futures.

Science is a powerful tool to serve the local communities that are integral to healing and stewarding these lands. Our science respects and incorporates indigenous knowledge and principles, creating a new generation of land and water management tools for building sustainable futures. Working closely with indigenous and local communities, our science:

  • Provides practical new ways to solve land and water challenges by integrating indigenous knowledge into our scientific methods and tools.
  • Gives local communities new tools and technologies to make informed decisions, negotiate effectively in the face of development pressures, and measure progress toward sustainability.
  • Helps identify new paths to sustainable economic development that honors traditional ecological knowledge and nature — and provides a common measure of progress along the way.
  • Showcases the value of nature in a framework that helps local communities share progress and garner new support.
  • Serves as a model for other large-scale community-led conservation efforts around the world.

Results

We’re addressing the priorities of the people who call this place home.

We focus on practical approaches that get enduring results — with benefits that people can walk on, float on, breathe, see and touch. Our impact at the grassroots level is proof that social, environmental and economic good can work hand in hand. By focusing on tangible conservation that generates a ripple effect, we increase the support to achieve more and bigger things. We are:

  • Partnering with indigenous and local groups to make a tangible difference in the things that matter most.
  • Building the wealth of indigenous and local communities through new business development, access to capital and initiatives that make the local economy more diverse.
  • Inspiring others through visible wins that build momentum toward even larger long-term successes.
  • Delivering results that showcase how nature and community wellbeing are inextricably connected.
  • Using science to demonstrate results and the magnitude of important gains.
  • Serving as a global model for achieving community-led conservation that gets results.

Commitment

We’re thinking forward to the next 500 years.

It’s time to replace short-term interests with long-term solutions.

Across the Emerald Edge, emerging indigenous and local leadership is looking to replace boom-and-bust cycles with sustainable economies that work for nature and people — not just for the next generation, but for the next 500 years. We join in their commitment to this long view, even as we find ways to make an immediate impact. We are:

  • Partnering with leaders in local communities who are looking generations ahead.

  • Developing long-term, integrated strategies that support local communities in making the shift to sustainable economies and lead to lasting prosperity.
  • Supporting indigenous authority so that local communities can make long-term plans with new confidence and certainty about the future.
  • Upping sustainability with each conservation success — adding to the overall long-term impact.

It’s time to replace short-term thinking with long-term solutions that work for people and nature — and local communities are giving us a unique opportunity to help advance this transformation. We are working in partnership at an unprecedented scale to help communities heal the land, support indigenous authority, and we are using conservation science to create the sustainable conditions for everyone to thrive: people, nature and economies.