Through its Wildlands Partnership, Northeast Wilderness Trust is joining forces with local land trusts to protect more wilderness across the Northeast. Eligible land trusts are compensated by the Northeast Wilderness Trust for project costs, and can receive ongoing income by enrolling in our Wildlands Carbon Program. Since its inception in 2020, the Wildlands Partnership has protected over 8,954 forever-wild acres across three states with five partner land trusts. In 2023, Phase II of the Wildlands Partnership launched with the goal of protecting an additional 15,000 wild acres.

The Partnership serves two critical purposes:

  1. Only 3.3% of New England is preserved as wildlands; just slightly more when including New York. This amount is woefully inadequate. The Wildlands Partnership aims to increase wildland conservation by uniting accredited land trusts with resources to conserve wild landscapes across the region.
  2. To respond directly to the urgent need for natural climate solutions, as put forth by the IPCC and the IPBES. Wildlands are remarkably effective at absorbing and storing carbon, while also offering species resilient, connected habitats as the climate rapidly changes. In conjunction with protecting well-managed woodlands, the pace of wilderness conservation must accelerate to avoid the worst effects of climate change.


Wild nature has intrinsic value and deserves to exist for its own sake. In addition, forever-wild conservation is among the most cost-efficient and immediate actions we can take to confront climate chaos and the extinction crisis. Numerous studies confirm the incredible ability of old, wild forests to absorb carbon and the importance of allowing forests to mature.  When applied to specific places in a complementary manner with surrounding managed woodlands, wild nature is a proven, effective, and scalable natural climate solution. These forests are better at storing carbon than any technology, and aren’t powered by fossil fuels!

The window is narrowing, and the land trust community must act quickly while we still can. Every forest we protect as wilderness today will become an old-growth forest of tomorrow. The Wildlands Partnership offers a streamlined, cost-effective way to make a difference for nature while doing what land trusts do best: saving places for future generations.

Forever-Wild Conservation

On forever-wild properties, management is limited or non-existent.  Recreation must be minimally disruptive to wildlife, plants, soils, and water.  Where and how people connect with the land may be tailored according to the particular property and the missions of the Wildlands Partner.

Allowable activities: scientific study, hunting of abundant prey species, non-motorized/non-mechanized recreation such as hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Prohibited activities: harvesting or cutting trees (except for trail maintenance), mountain biking, trapping, and motorized vehicles.


  1. Accredited land trusts in New England and northern New York can apply.
  2. Northeast Wilderness Trust will prioritize Wildlands Partnership projects using our Project Selection Criteria that reviews size, resiliency, context, and geographic diversity.
  3. As part of the funding requirements, Northeast Wilderness Trust will work with your organization to permanently protect a property with a forever-wild easement:
    • For land you own, or would like to own, Northeast Wilderness Trust will hold a forever-wild conservation easement on the property.
    • For land on which you would like to hold a forever-wild easement, Northeast Wilderness Trust will lend our expertise to help you craft a forever-wild easement. Your land trust will be the primary easement holder, and the Wilderness Trust will co-hold the easement or hold an executory interest.
A photo of an orange salamander on soil.

Wild landscapes, especially at low elevations, are missing from our region. Creating the conditions for old-growth forest to return to Downeast Maine, in a place where the community can have a firsthand relationship to the land, has been a special opportunity.

–Aaron Dority, Executive Director of Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Wildlands Partnership Cohort 1


  1. Northeast Wilderness Trust will award up to $125,000 for existing fee lands and up to $250,000 to support new acquisitions. All lands are to be permanently protected with a forever-wild easement. The funds can be used for:
    • staff time;
    • stewardship endowment;
    • purchasing land for forever-wild protection; and,
    • transactional costs associated with the Wildlands Partnership project. However, funds cannot be applied to cover legal fees.
  2. Wildlands Carbon: Your land trust will have the option to enroll in Wildlands Carbon, offering access to the carbon market if the property in question is newly-acquired by your land trust. Enrollment can bring additional, long-term revenue to your land trust.
    • Northeast Wilderness Trust and our partner SIGCarbon do the heavy lifting of developing and maintaining the carbon project on behalf of enrolled land trusts.
  3. Northeast Wilderness Trust will offer technical assistance and guidance as your land trust navigates forever-wild conservation projects.
  4. Northeast Wilderness Trust can help to celebrate your success, as desired, by:
    • Collaboratively crafting a press release for local and regional news outlets;
    • Sharing your story through digital and print media; and,
    • Hosting a celebratory event.


The Wildlands Partnership is not currently accepting applications. If your land trust is accredited by the Land Trust Alliance and is interested in hearing about future application rounds, please contact Caitlin Mather at or 802.224.1000 ext. 112

Success Stories

Thousand Islands Region Easements

Thousand Islands Region Easements

Salisbury Easements

Salisbury Easements

Grand Lake Reserve Easement

Grand Lake Reserve Easement

Whalesback Easements

Whalesback Easements

Cornwall Easement

Cornwall Easement

Frenchman Bay Community Forest Easement

Frenchman Bay Community Forest Easement

Frenchman Bay Conservancy


Cornwall Conservation Trust


Cornwall Conservation Trust took this action in recognition of the environmental challenges of climate change and extinction of species through loss of habitat. NEWT’s Wildlands Partnership offers us an opportunity to ensure that Cornwall Conservation Trust’s protected forestland will never again be logged and will still allow people to enjoy nature.

–Barton Jones, Board President of Cornwall Conservation Trust, Wildlands Partnership Cohort 1


Caitlin Mather
Land Protection Manager

Questions about the Wildlands Partnership? Reach out to Caitlin at caitlin [@] or 802.224.1000 ext. 112.

Tricia Bhatia
Carbon and Transaction Specialist

Questions about carbon credits? Reach out to Tricia at tricia [@] or 802.224.1000 ext. 116.

Partner Organizations

Logo for Sweet Water Trust, featuring a turtle on a lily pad.
Logo for Wildlands and Woodlands.

Frenchman Bay Community Forest photos and video by Jerry Monkman/Reel Quest Films. Cornwall photo by Harry White; Cornwall Easement video by Abby Wilson.