Ecosystems Program

To monitor, maintain, enhance, and restore the biodiversity and ecology of Illinois' landscapes through local partnerships.

The purpose of the Ecosystems Program is to integrate the interests and participation of local communities and private, public and corporate landowners to enhance and protect watersheds through ecosystem-based management. The Ecosystems Program is funded through Partners for Conservation (PFC), a comprehensive long-term approach to protecting and managing Illinois' natural resources. The Ecosystems Program is a voluntary, broad-based incentive program.

The Ecosystems Program consists of four components

  • Assessment and Monitoring
  • Integrated Technical Assistance
  • Ecosystem Project, Planning, and Support Grants
  • Ecosystem Interpretation and Education

The Ecosystems Program is made up of Ecosystem Partnerships, which are coalitions of local stakeholders -- private landowners, businesses, scientists, environmental organizations, recreational enthusiasts, and policy makers. They are united by a common interest in the natural resources of their areas' watershed. Partnership designation brings financial and technical support, which is integral in addressing watershed concern. Currently, there are 41 Ecosystem Partnerships covering 84% of Illinois. More impressive is the fact that 98% of the state's citizens live in an Ecosystem Partnership area.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources provides scientific, technical, administrative, and financial support to designated Ecosystem Partnerships for the protection, promotion, and enhancement of the biodiversity and natural resources of ecosystems.

Individuals and organizations that are cooperating to improve the natural resource base of where they live, work and play while promoting compatible sustainable economic activity can apply for designation as an Ecosystem Partnership. They must identify natural resource protection and enhancement as their primary goal, include all major stakeholders in the watershed(s), and support the goals of the Department's Ecosystems Program.

Coalitions may request Ecosystem Partnership designation by writing to the Director of the Department. Requests should include partnership area boundaries, partnership mission statement, a list of members with their affiliation, and a description of the proposed Ecosystem Partnership's natural resource condition or natural resource significance.

Once designated, partnerships can apply for a Vision Plan grant and a Support grant. They are also eligible to apply for competitive Ecosystem Project grants. Project grants are funded in six categories: habitat protection, land acquisition and easement, planning, outreach and education, research, and resource economics.

38 Ecosystem Partnerships covering 80% of the state.
610 projects have been funded with $23.6 million in Partners for Conservation (formerly C2000) Ecosystem Project grants.

To date more than 70,500 acres have been restored. Nearly 5,600 acres have been protected through conservation easements or simple acquisition. More than $34.9 million in project grants have been awarded. Recipients have provided another $33.4 million in match. Nearly a half million citizens of all ages have been educated on natural resource protection.


Contact Ecosystems Program

Contact Ecosystems Program

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Office of Realty and Environmental Planning
Ecosystems Division
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, Illinois  62702
Phone: (217) 782-7940
Fax: (217) 775-0727


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Illinois