Natural Neighbors seeks to introduce greatly increased numbers of people to the natural and cultural heritage of the regions where they live, by promoting and strengthening metropolitan and regional alliances of conservation and historic preservation agencies, museums, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, and other organizations devoted to protecting and interpreting their regions' natural and cultural heritage. It encourages:

  • Museums to direct visitors to natural areas and historic sites nearby
  • Museums to create more and better museum exhibits about their regions' nature and history
  • Conservation areas and historic sites to direct visitors to nearby museums
  • Museums and visitor centers to carry a good selection of guides to regional natural and human history  
  • Cooperation in engaging with the underserved
  • Exhibits and activities that link nature, history, literature, and the arts
  • Cooperation with schools and universities
  • Exhibits and activities about nature conservation, historic preservation, climate change, and benefits of contact with nature and outdoor exercise 

Natural Neighbors brings together three powerful ideas:
►Getting people out into nature. People need to spend time in nature for their own health and wellbeing, beginning in early childhood. Also: They are much more likely to support conservation everywhere when they appreciate nature and culture where they live.  
►The movement to bring nature and culture together. People are more likely to have a sense of belonging and of civic responsibility when they appreciate their region’s history and culture, as well as its natural environment.
►Metropolitan conservation alliances. The best-known example is Chicago Wilderness, a coalition of some 200 organizations in parts of four states. Still uncommon, such alliances promote cooperation among conservation agencies, natural history museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, and botanic gardens.  

At this stage, Natural Neighbors is a concept and a means of exchanging information and ideas, rather than a formal program. In Los Angeles, meetings and a workshop have been held with 20 agencies and institutions. Meetings have also been held in Chicago, New York City, Arizona, and Kingston,  Jamaica, and there have been preliminary discussions in Brazil and Israel. In addition, Natural Neighbors was discussed at a workshop held at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawai'i.

These discussions identified a need for the main actors in regional coalitions to formulate and agree upon common messages to the public. This, in turn, led to a project on Spirit of Place.   

Natural Neighbors originated in a project initiated and carried out by InterEnvironment Institute and sponsored by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the State of California - Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and others.

See the background paper for more details.

Ted Trzyna, President, InterEnvironment Institute, P.O. Box 99, Claremont, California 91711, USA
Please use e-mail: Ted_Trzyna [at]

Copyright © 2029 InterEnvironment Institute. All rights reserved. Natural Neighbors[SM] is protected as a  Service Mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. See Copyright and caveats.   

Natural Neighbors NN2

Connecting people, nature, and culture through regional conservation alliances