Next Century Conservation Plan

a flower at Ted Stone Forest

Released in 2014, the Next Century Conservation Plan (NCCP) for the Forest Preserves of Cook County serves as an ambitious roadmap, outlining robust initiatives to position Cook County as a national leader in urban conservation. Key objectives include substantial habitat restoration and the expansion of protected lands, emphasizing accessibility for the diverse population of Cook County.

The Forest Preserves’ unwavering dedication to the plan has led to steady progress toward its ambitious goals. While implementation spans 25 years, annual progress is visible through Cook County’s Open Data Portal. The Forest Preserves’ Performance Management Dashboard, accessible via the portal, offers a comprehensive view of active implementation.

In alignment with the NCCP, the Forest Preserves embraces a dual commitment to the conservation of the natural environment and proactive community engagement. Four performance indicators serve as designated mission-driven goals, functioning as measurable benchmarks to guide the integration of natural landscape conservation with meaningful connections within Cook County’s diverse communities.

For the Forest Preserves’ Performance Management Dashboard, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are as follows:

  • Acres Under Active Restoration Management: At the heart of the Forest Preserves’ plan is an ambitious goal: the restoration of 30,000 acres of natural habitat including prairies, wetlands and woodlands.
  • Forest Preserves Acres Acquired: The plan calls for an expansion of the Forest Preserves to 90,000 total acres.
  • People Engaged in Onsite Programs, Events & Activities: Striving to increase engagement with nature, the objective is an annual involvement of 2 million individuals through a variety of diverse onsite programs, events and activities at the Forest Preserves.
  • People Engaged via Offsite Programs and Outreach Efforts: The goal is to achieve 4 million yearly engagements via offsite Forest Preserves programs and activities, as well as online communications available to the diverse communities of Cook County.