Nature in the City

overview of kayaks along Charles River with city in background

The benefits of nature for people and wildlife are unmistakable. Nature cleans air and water, cools neighborhoods, safeguards wildlife, and provides critical mental and physical health benefits. Also unmistakable are the significant inequities in access to nature for cities and environmental justice communities. These historically marginalized communities suffer from a "nature deficit" and bear the brunt of the impact from climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other health issues like asthma.

Mass Audubon’s Nature in the City initiative sits at the intersection of the most critical challenges we face today: loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and impacts of climate change. By restoring and protecting greenspaces in cities and environmental justice communities, we can help solve for these challenges and provide the benefits of nature to the people who need it the most.

About Nature in the City

At its core, Nature in the City focuses on increasing and restoring urban greenspaces in communities that have historically lacked adequate and accessible access to nature. Through this initiative, Mass Audubon works with community partners to:

  • conserve land held by partners;
  • acquire land in special circumstances;
  • restore wetlands and stream corridors;
  • plant trees and pollinator gardens;
  • empower residents to be stewards and advocates for the natural environment;
  • link residents to education and outdoor programming; 
  • and advocate for policies that protect greenspaces.

Nature in the City succeeds only in partnership with communities. The work we will do with each community will be unique and based on a strong understanding of the community’s assets and needs. We will convene, listen, and engage actively to determine what strategies to execute and resources to deploy to protect and expand nature in our communities. 

Launched in 2022, Mass Audubon is piloting Nature in the City in four cities: Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, and Fall River. In addition, we will expand this work in Lawrence, New Bedford, Worcester, and Springfield over the coming years.

Updates and Progress

Building off the success of Mass Audubon’s two urban wildlife sanctuaries, Boston Nature Center in Mattapan and Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, we’ve hit the ground running.

  • In Cambridge, we’re partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to run the Magazine Beach Park Nature Center, which offers free drop-in children’s nature activities, adult walks and lectures, school programs, community festivals, and more from April through November. We are also partnering with community and business organizations in North Cambridge to protect and restore Jerry’s Pond and the surrounding environment to benefit people and wildlife.
  • In Lowell, Mass Audubon is working alongside the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and Mill City Grows to protect and restore the last family farm in Lowell and open an environmental education center, sustainable farm, and wildlife sanctuary for all to enjoy.
  • In Boston, we are working with the City and other partners to restore Canterbury Brook, a local stream in Mattapan. We are partnering with local groups and the Boston Public Schools to green schoolyards in Dorchester, Mattapan, and surrounding neighborhoods. In Hyde Park, we are partnering with the Friends of Crane’s Ledge Woods to advocate for the protection of the woods. And we continue to educate and engage thousands of people at the Boston Nature Center, also in Mattapan.  

How You Can Help

By working together in and with communities, we can build healthy, vibrant, and green cities that are more resilient to climate change, support human well-being, and provide ecologically rich spaces to attract and support wildlife.

If you live near one of our Nature in the City communities and would like to get involved, please contact us. Want to help this program grow and succeed? Make a donation today >