When Andrea, Lydia, and Cynthia grew up in the hamlet of Barneveld, not far from the West Canada Creek, in the town of Trenton, they used to love listening to the birds with their dad, Theodore Kibiuk. “We’d spend hours out there. The birds were amazing—even though we really didn’t appreciate them as kids,” reflected Lydia. “I remember the Monarch butterflies, too. It was really magical.”
“Our parents loved this land, as did our grandparents,” explained Andrea, a veterinarian now living in Watertown, NY. “When our dad passed away, we wanted to honor our family’s connection to this land. We knew our parents and grandparents wanted this land to remain undeveloped for future generations.”
Now the sisters have conserved the 21-acre family land. They continue to own the property and can sell, or gift, the property subject to the conservation agreement.
Parcels like the Kibiuk’s, tucked into communities and along waterways, have often been overlooked as an important part of a regional conservation and ecological strategy.
But that’s changing. Research has documented that “small-parcel” conservation of local patches of habitat could be playing a much bigger role in conserving biodiversity than we might think.
A global study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science assessed the conservation values of vegetation patches in 27 countries on four continents including their size and distance to other habitats.
“Compared to large and well-connected habitat areas, small and isolated patches of habitat have generally been treated as not very important to conservation,” said Professor Wintle, lead researcher, in the article. “What we have found, however, is that small and isolated habitat areas are very important to the survival of many rare and endangered species.”
“This is how you conserve the lands that matter most,” explained Peggy O’Shea, a neighbor who has also protected her land. “Over time, amazing things happen.”
In this case, it’s a neighborhood conservation effort that includes the nearby Trenton Greenbelt and other protected lands along the West Canada Creek. The Kibuik family has protected another piece of the puzzle, and the wildlife and community are all the better for it.