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The Formation of ISC-Audubon - "It's Evolution Baby!"

With today’s economic conditions and the need to streamline and focus efforts in regard to communicating the messages associated with sustainability, the decision was made to merge three existing non-profit organizations (The International Sustainability Council, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon Outdoors), and three initiative efforts (Planit Green, The Audubon Network for Sustainability, and Broadcast Audubon) all of which have been working in collaboration with one another for nearly a decade.

Evolution of an Organiziton The history of these organizations and efforts actually originated from another Audubon organization.

In 2005, the Board of Directors of Audubon International encouraged Ron Dodson, the founder and President of the organization formed in 1987, to create a new way to advocate sustainability in its broader context. This was because the Board felt that sustainability was beyond the scope and mission of Audubon International, whose mission focused primary on environmental conservation of natural resources, and, in particular, water and wildlife related issues.

Sustainability in its broader context is often defined as managing the triple bottom line - a process by which businesses and individuals manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities.

This became the genesis upon which The International Sustainability Council was created.

To facilitate this enormous undertaking, Ron reached out to his son, Eric Dodson, who had formerly been employed at Audubon International for fifteen years, to head up the creation and administration of this new effort. Although initially established to provide a better understanding of the implications that society has on sustainability, the International Sustainability Council (ISC) serves as the clearinghouse of research and information to fully understand the relationships between ecological, social and economic systems for the mutual benefit of people and the environment.  

The ISC is directed by a voluntary coalition of thought leaders dedicated to advancing the understanding of the relationships among ecological, social and economic systems. One of the council’s primary objectives early on was to develop The Principles of Sustainability in order to define what sustainability means, and to outline what is required to be sustainable. The Principles of Sustainability are based, in part, upon the findings of the United Nations and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Shortly after the formation of the International Sustainability Council, Audubon Lifestyles was created to advocate economic sustainability, and to develop a number of sustainability-focused programs. These programs were created to educate and provide incentives to businesses, communities, municipalities and others who strive to apply the Principles of Sustainability where they live, work, and play. The Audubon Lifestyles Certified brand, which is awarded to businesses who complete the requirements outlined in their Programs has become a highly respected and sought after symbol of excellence in sustainability.

With the groundwork laid, it was initially thought that The International Sustainability Council, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon International would work cooperatively together. The goal being to position these three organizations as the leading organizations representing social, economic, and environmental sustainability. It was initially thought that The International Sustainability Council would take the lead on social sustainability related issues, Audubon Lifestyles taking on economic sustainability topics, and Audubon International taking the lead on environmental sustainability. Together the three organizations would serve not only as a checks and balances for one another under the banner of sustainability, but also continue establishing themselves as the global leaders advocating sustainability, each with a specific strength in each of the three broad sustainability sectors – social, economic and environmental.

Unfortunately, the partnership did not come to fruition when Audubon International decided to bow out of the relationship with both The International Sustainability Council, and Audubon Lifestyles, siting financial and political reasons for doing so. It was however decided by the new boards of directors of Audubon Lifestyles and The ISC that with so much time and money invested into the effort that they would both continue to pursue the cause upon which they were created.

With the environmental portion of sustainability now missing from the coalition, it was decided to create a third and final piece to the equation. And so Audubon Outdoors was born to become the advocate for environmental sustainability.

The primary objective of Audubon Outdoors is to encourage outdoor recreational activities including gardening, bird watching, hiking, fishing, golfing, kayaking, climbing, and the like. With a global trend towards increased urbanism also comes a reduced awareness of nature, and the diminished opportunity for children and adults to play freely in nature. It became the objective of Audubon Outdoors to promote the conservation and recreation opportunities that exist within our communities, and to serve as the official facilitator of the coalition’s Philanthropic Cause - to Spread the Seeds of Sustainability. Monies collected through membership, donations, and grants are donated back to local communities in the form of seeds, and/or seed grants to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

With all the pieces in place (The International Sustainability Council, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon Outdoors), the group has continued to grow membership and encourage businesses, municipalities, and individuals from around the world to get involved in sustainability-focused programs, and has been doing so with great success for nearly a decade.

“Given the great success that we’ve seen over the past few years, and the great relationship that has developed between the ISC, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon Outdoors, it seemed only logical that the various organizations and initiatives that have already been working in unison actually agree to merge into one 501c3 organization, that have separate, but overlapping purposes and aspirations,” said R. Eric Dodson, Executive Director of the newly formed ISC-Audubon. He continued by saying, “In an example of practicing what we preach, the merger will, in a word make all three organizations more sustainable. It will reduce administrative expenses, eliminate organizational redundancies, improve upon the delivery of programs and services, and increase the combined global impact towards advocating sustainability."

Serving as an umbrella organization, ISC-Audubon will maintain and administer the ISC, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon Outdoors, all as they have operated in the past. In addition, ISC-Audubon will administer Planit Green, The Audubon Network for Sustainability, and Broadcast Audubon. All of these non-profits and initiatives will continue to operate as they have in the past, but will gain the added administrative benefits of merging into one entity.

ISC-Audubon describes itself as a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. Maintaining the initial goals and objectives upon which it was formed, ISC-Audubon remains committed to science based, economically viable, environmentally healthy and socially beneficial actions that will improve the quality of life for everyone, while ensuring that future generations have the ability to meet their own needs.

“I finally feel that after a rather long start-up period that our efforts in regard to advocating sustainability are starting to really pick up speed. We are gathering new support and building new relationships on a daily basis. The concepts associated with sustainability are complex and range from globally-significant issues to personal choices. It has become clear that in order to remain focused on the overall goals associated with advocating a shift toward a more sustainable society, our collective efforts must become unified and managed in a cohesive manner. Otherwise, we may become overwhelmed by the different objectives that each of our partners bring to the table,” said Ronald G. Dodson, Chairman of the ISC-Audubon.

While the ISC-Audubon may technically be considered a “new” entity, the programs, projects and goals of the International Sustainability Council, Audubon Lifestyles, and Audubon Outdoors remain unchanged. The new, unified brand, logo, mission and vision that ISC-Audubon represents will become more prominent in the future as a way to simplify the collective advocacy for sustainability that the groups promote.
  

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Migratory Bird Conservation

migratory birds Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced recently that the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved spending more than $3 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to protect an estimated 1,600 acres of waterfowl habitat on 3 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Commission also approved $23.5 million in federal funding for grants to conserve more than 139,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in Canada through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).
  
“Protecting North America’s wetlands ¬ – which provide so many ecological, economic, and social benefits – is crucial,” said Salazar, who chairs the Commission. “Besides providing habitat for fish, wildlife, and a variety of plants, wetlands are nurseries for many saltwater and freshwater fish and shellfish of commercial and recreational importance, and they provide hunting, fishing and other wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of Americans.”
  
The NAWCA Standard Grants awarded today will support six Canadian projects to benefit ducks, geese, and other migratory birds on more than 139,000 acres in 12 provinces and territories. Partners will contribute more than $23.5 million in matching non-federal dollars toward these projects.
 
A presentation summarizing 45 projects that were previously approved for funding by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council under the NAWCA U.S. Small Grants Program was given to the Commission. These grant awards total more than $3 million in federal funds. Partners will contribute more than $12 million in matching funds toward these projects, which will protect and enhance 26,050 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in 24 states from Maine to California.
 
Each year, the Commission pre-approves the total amount of funding to be distributed to Small Grants projects in the next fiscal year. Final project selection authority is delegated to the Council, which then reports its selections back to the Commission. For fiscal year 2011, the Commission authorized up to $5 million to fund projects under the Small Grants program.
 
Examples of projects funded with NAWCA Small Grants in fiscal year 2011 include:
 
Arkansas: Arkansas River Valley Wetlands Restoration Phase I
Grantee: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
This project will restore two highly degraded bottomland hardwood forests totaling 1,412 acres within the Arkansas River Valley. Partners will restore a 411-acre bottomland hardwood forest block in the Galla Creek Wildlife Management Area in Pope County, and 1,001 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA in Yell County. This project will benefit species such as mallard, wood duck, prothonotary and Kentucky warblers, and American woodcock.

California: Grasslands Wetland Enhancement
Grantee: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
This grant project will enhance 397 previously restored acres and an additional 123 acres of seasonal wetlands by installing a water delivery pipeline that will allow habitat managers to independently flood certain wetlands while conserving water. Species that use this habitat include mallard, northern pintail, green-winged teal, great blue heron, great egret, black-crowned night heron, and marbled godwit.
 
Minnesota: Madrena WMA Addition
Grantee: Pheasants Forever, Inc.
The purpose of this project is to protect key wetland-grassland complexes and provide waterfowl and grassland birds with high-quality nesting cover. Pheasants Forever will acquire 160 acres and subsequently donate the property to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for enrollment in the DNR’s Wildlife Management Area System. This area provides critical staging and migratory habitats for lesser scaup, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, and other waterfowl.
 
New Hampshire: Pawtuckaway River Greenway, Phase II
Grantee: Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire
This project will expand a block of conservation land along the Pawtuckaway River by acquiring and protecting a large, unfragmented parcel of land. Protecting this parcel will preserve important wetland resources; protect diverse habitat for waterfowl, wetland birds, and other migratory birds; and provide public access for outdoor recreation, including hiking, skiing, fishing, and hunting. These shallow marsh wetlands and associated uplands provide nesting, foraging, and migratory habitat for mallard and wood duck and migrating American woodcock, among other species.

Examples of projects funded with NAWCA Standard Grants in Canada in fiscal year 2011 include:
   
Canadian Prairie/Parkland and Western Boreal Habitat Program
Grantee: Ducks Unlimited Canada
This proposal is the next step in a multi-year commitment by Ducks Unlimited Canada to contribute to achieving the goals and objectives of the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture. This proposal will secure 122,951 acres, enhance 7,411 acres of wetland and associated upland habitat, and influence another 4,637,887 acres through extension activities.
  
NCC Quebec & Atlantic: Protecting Wetland and Upland Habitat, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture
Grantee: Nature Conservancy Canada
Project activities will focus on preserving important breeding and migratory habitat, staging and molting habitat, and wintering habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland, and colonial bird species. Priority waterfowl species directly benefiting from these activities include American black duck, green-winged teal and Canada goose.
 
The Commission approved the purchase of wetland habitat that will be added to 6 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting, and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Federal Duck Stamp.

These acquisitions include:

NEW REFUGE BOUNDARY AND PRICE APPROVAL
Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon - This is the first time that Nestucca Bay NWR is coming to the Commission. Proposal is for boundary approval of 3,435 acres containing a mix of fee and easement acquisitions with 54 owners. Price approval request is for 21 acres in fee from one owner.

BOUNDARY ADDITION AND PRICE APPROVAL
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Texas - Proposal is for boundary addition and price approval of 1,544 acres in fee from two owners.

PRICE APPROVAL
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, West Virginia - Proposal is for price approval of 73 acres in fee from one owner.

For every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps, ninety-eight cents goes directly to purchase vital habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Federal Duck Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland habitats for national wildlife refuges. To date, more than 5.3 million acres of wetlands have been purchased using more than $750 million in Duck Stamp revenue.

More information about the approved NAWCA grant programs and projects is available on the Web at: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NAWCA/index.shtm

The Commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Wittman of Virginia, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, as well as state representatives serving as ex-officio members who vote on projects located within their respective states.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov .


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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org 

The International Sustainability Council

www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Sustainability Campaign
sustainabilitycampaign.blogspot.com

eNature.com
www.enature.com

Golfs Drive Toward Sustainability
www.eifg.org/sustainability

World Migratory Bird Day
www.worldmigratorybirdday.org

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
www.gcsaa.org

The United States Golf Association (USGA)
www.usga.org

Sustainable Golf & Development
www.sustainablegolfdevelopment.com

Sustainable Forest Initiative
www.sfiprogram.org

National Geographic
www.nationalgeographic.org

International Migratory Bird Day 2011
www.birdday.org

 

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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