Monday, October 3, 2011

VCN's Environmental Assembly

The Virginia Conservation Network’s Virginia Environmental Assembly was held September 16th - 17th at Wintergreen Resort. There were many great sessions, but a couple that I found remarkable were the Economic Impacts of Virginia’s National Parks and Battlefields Session, and Making the Case for Incorporating Natural Assets into Local Planning sessions. Both of these sessions bolstered the idea of strengthening the partnerships between heritage and natural resource organizations.

In the first session, it was discussed that tourism is a 13 billion dollar industry in Virginia and the top two touristy things to do in Virginia are walking and visiting historic sites. To continue the pace of this economic engine it makes sense that we need to protect our public parks that so often combine recreational trails and historic sites.

Kate Brady and Catherine Redfearn from Partners for Place also discussed how National Geographic is currently working on a Geotourism project in the Shenandoah Valley through the Center for Sustainable Destinations.

Geotourism- a growing category of tourism- is defined as tourism that sustains nature or agriculture, is based on local heritage and retains the character of the destination. Geotourists tend to seek authentic experiences, spend more money, stay longer and have less impact on the environment.

The session Making the Case for Incorporating Natural Assets into Local Planning was presented by the Green Infrastructure Center, a Charlottesville-based organization that helps local governments, communities, regional planning organizations, land trusts and developers evaluate their green infrastructure assets and make plans to conserve them.

Karen Firehock, Executive Director of GIC, discussed the differences between infrastructure and green infrastructure and how to get across to local officials how clean air and water contributes to the health and quality of life for communities.

It is curious how we are ingrained to value clean air and water and beautiful landscapes, but so often we wait until local leaders publically recognize our natural assets before we will admit that they are just as valuable as good roads or good schools.

The Virginia Environmental Assembly as well as other environmental workshops are held throughout the year. Check out Virginia Conservation Network’s website for upcoming events.

1 comment:

Canada said...

I absolutely love these guys. What a great show. It arrived on time and was in great shape. I love to watch and listen to this group. They are great.