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Impact

In a world flooded with information, Island Press connects the right ideas with the people who need them to build sustainable cities and protect the natural world. The power of knowledge, and of books, cannot be underestimated. Below are a few of our recent successes.

Inspiring Local Citizens to Create Safer Streets

When city officials were too slow to protect a Boston bike lane where a cyclist was killed, one local man took action. Inspired by Island Press’ book Tactical Urbanism, a local architect created a barrier along the bike lane using traffic cones and potted plants he bought and installed himself. 

His actions made such an impact that the City of Boston installed official flex posts. Coverage of his actions in The Boston Globe, FastCo, and other media led to more interventions in cities around the world. 

Shaping Tomorrow’s Cities

Island Press published the Urban Street Design Guide in 2013. It outlines specific standards for creating safer streets for everyone.  In less than a year, the book received the official endorsement of 40 cities, seven states, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. This enabled thousands of engineers, planners, and designers to use the guide in their work.

In California, for example, the Urban Street Design Guide was adopted as an official supplement to the state’s official traffic and highway guides. That means our book is driving $248 million in spending through the Caltrans Active Transportation Program—funds earmarked for projects that encourage safe biking and walking.

Protecting Fisheries, Spurring Public Advocacy

The Atlantic menhaden population was devastated by unrestricted fishing by industry, which uses the fish in everything from lipstick and paint to protein supplements. In 2007, Island Press published The Most Important Fish in the Sea, explaining menhaden’s vital role in the food chain and its essential function as a natural water filtration system.

Our book helped spark an advocacy campaign that convinced the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to impose quotas on the menhaden catch for the first time ever.

In June 2014, ASMFC reported that new limits, which took effect in 2013, had resulted in a 26% decrease in the annual menhaden harvest. Just a year after the quotas began, roughly 300 million more menhaden were already roaming the sea and coastal waterways—a huge victory for fishing communities and conservationists.

Increasing the Impact of Conservation Finance

The Conservation Finance Network (CFN) at Island Press has trained more than 400 people on innovative techniques for bringing new financial resources to land and natural resource conservation in the United States. Among our trainees:

  • A 2009 boot camp attendee gained the inspiration she needed to tackle a very large transaction involving a public-private partnership, land swap, and capital campaign in New York
  • A 2012 boot camp attendee developed multiple organic farms and interactive outdoor experiences for children on conserved land in Georgia

Influencing Approaches to Conservation

Published by Island Press in 1997, Nature’s Services was the first book to explore the link between the economy and the environmental systems that sustain us. It showed how natural processes such as cleansing, recycling, and renewal are worth trillions of dollars annually.

Nature’s Services has been cited more than 5,000 times in scholarly literature, which illustrates its influence on academics and scientists in the field alike. And it has inspired change in how private and public funds are invested. A 2014 survey of conservation investing identified commitments of approximately $23 billion investing in conservation in the period from 2009-2013.