The Atlantic Flyway is one of four ancient pathways that migratory birds use to travel from breeding grounds to wintering areas.
It’s also the most densely populated, which means vital natural habitats are threatened by development and urban sprawl.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) has made the area a priority for conservation, and recently collaborated with Farmland Partners to preserve a swath of farmland along the flyway that is adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, Virginia.
“Not only is the Great Dismal Swamp a spectacular habitat for waterfowl and for migrating birds, but for wildlife across hundreds of species,” said Adam Putnam, the CEO of Ducks Unlimited. “And it never would have been on our radar if it hadn’t been for the accessibility and the open mindedness and the commitment to conservation values that Farmland Partners shares with Ducks Unlimited.”
Farmland Partners, which purchased the 1,268-acre farm in 2015, announced in 2021 that it would sell the property in a phased deal to DU for habitat restoration and protection. The unique transaction structure provides DU time and flexibility to secure capital for the project.
To date, DU has acquired 856 acres and is expected to close on the remaining 412-acre tract before November 30, 2023.
Putnam said that Farmland Partners agreed to let the organization examine its portfolio to identify farmland that might be near critical conservation priorities.
“One of the first that really bubbled to the top of that priority list was the Great Dismal Swamp,” he explained. That area, Putnam noted has “played such a fantastic role in American history.”
One of the first that really bubbled to the top of that priority list was the Great Dismal Swamp.