Collaboration reduced to its simplest definition means "to work together." This simple concept is powerful tool to effect change. By working within collaborative groups, projects are guided by trust and reciprocity, project actions tend to be more highly adaptive and naturally creative. By working with collaborators towards a common goal, ideas are cross-pollinated and information is gathered collectively and more opportunities for innovation and strong strategies for change are achieved. In the case of three winners of the 2012 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards, collaboration is the key to conservation.
On January 28, 2013, the 2012 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards were presented at the New Jersey State Museum. New Jersey Audubon staff were present and is proud to have been part of collaborative efforts for three of the eleven projects honored. Specifically, awards given in the following categories: Healthy and Sustainable Businesses, Healthy Ecosystems, and Land Conservation.
Winners of the awards are judged by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection on the basis of documented environmental benefits, innovation and the long term impact of their projects.
Category Healthy and Sustainable Businesses
Winner: Mannington Mills, Salem
NJ Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council member, Mannington Mills, is a recognized leader of sustainable practices. Their efforts include solar energy implementation, emission reductions, recycling initiatives as well as reducing water use by converting nearly 30 acres of lawn and agricultural lands to native grasslands and shrub lands, providing critical habitat areas for several threatened and endangered species. New Jersey Audubon, along with the USFWS and NRCS assisted with the design, installation and monitoring of this important habitat in the Delaware Bayshore.
Category Healthy Ecosystems
Winner: Drew University, Madison
Drew University transformed its campus and adjacent forest preserve in Madison to restore lost ecosystem services, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity. Most significant is the ecological restoration of 18 acres of the Drew Forest Preserve, in synergistic partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and New Jersey Audubon. By restoring this forest ecosystem and planting native species across the campus, Drew University’s habitat restoration efforts directly address many of New Jersey’s needs for ecosystem services and for protection of natural resources and open space. More specifically, this work addresses explicitly articulated objectives for New Jersey: preservation and enhancement of critical wildlife habitat, reduction of invasive vegetation, preservation of open space, natural resource protection, watershed management, water quality improvement, flood control, reduction of soil erosion, filtering of air pollutants, maintenance of water quality, and enhanced groundwater recharge.
Category Land Conservation
Winner: City of Linden
The City of Linden was recognized for its ongoing development of the Hawk Rise Sanctuary, a 95-acre preserve that reconnects residents to the Rahway River and the Arthur Kill. The Hawk Rise Sanctuary is a blueprint for turning a former landfill into open space and wildlife habitat while providing multiple public uses. New Jersey Audubon has been instrumental in assisting the City with the sanctuary’s new network of trails, viewing stations, interpretive signs and educational programs that connect people with natural areas and wildlife.
“The habitat enhancements and restorations at these project sites are expected to have far-reaching benefits, not just for wildlife, but for their communities as well.” said John Parke, NJ Audubon Northern Stewardship Project Director. "By bringing in talented and passionate collaborators such as NJ Audubon and USFWS and working towards a common goal, these award winners solidified a symbiotic relationship with communities to foster environmental awareness while enhancing wildlife and natural systems. They should be seen as models for recognizing the benefits of collaboration when considering restoration, protection and stewardship of open space and natural resource protection."
NJ Audubon's mission promotes the stewardship of New Jersey's wildlife and habitat and promotes a conservation ethic among citizens of the state seeking to conserve. That said, NJ Audubon would like to congratulate Mannington Mills, Drew University and the City of Linden and say thank you for having NJ Audubon collaborate and share in your vision of achieving environmental excellence for your projects! Your incredible efforts to restore critical habitat for many species of wildlife in New Jersey are greatly appreciated!
NJ Audubon would also like to extend our congratulations to the rest of the 2012 Environmental Excellence Award winners and commend them for their efforts to make New Jersey a better place for people and wildlife!