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NVCT works with the Family of the "Godfather of Biodiversity" to conserve Drover's Rest


Press Release

For Immediate Release: July 21, 2023

Contacts:

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

Aaron Kershaw

akershaw@nvct.org / (703) 462-9572



NVCT Secures Protection of Drover's Rest in Fairfax County,

formerly owned by the “Godfather of Biodiversity”

[Fairfax County, Virginia] - The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust has proudly conserved Drover's Rest, a remarkable and historic property in Fairfax County, securing enhanced protection for a site now designated on the National Register of Historic Places. The conservation agreement protects the historic property, constructed during the mid to late 1700s, and showcases exceptional architectural features with unique historical significance. The designation also ensures that the legacy of renowned conservation biologist and environmental advocate Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy is forever safeguarded on the site.

"The contributions that Dr. Lovejoy made to our planet are immeasurable, and so much of his life and work are tied to his love for Drover’s Rest,’ said Alan Rowsome, Executive Director for the Trust. "That his daughters would complete his goal of protecting the property for all time says so much about their belief in Dr. Lovejoy’s legacy and how much it personally meant to him. NVCT could not be prouder to have helped them achieve that goal.’

Situated on a two-acre wooded property in McLean, Drover's Rest provides a serene and picturesque environment. The main house was once a stopover along historic Georgetown Pike for weary travelers bringing goods to the Nation's capital. The property features a stone-lined well, contributing to its historic charm, and a library that historically acted as a smokehouse but was later converted into a library and workspace for Dr. Lovejoy.

The Lovejoy family released a heartfelt statement expressing their profound joy and excitement for protecting Drover's Rest, acknowledging how deeply intertwined the property was with their father's groundbreaking work.

“This land molded our own individual relationships to nature, resonating profoundly for us with our father’s work in the Amazon and here in the US. Preserving this land and its historical relevance, both long past and also more recently as our father’s beloved home, helps us remember this incredible man and his lifelong work. Its preservation will serve as a legacy to his work and continue to remind us that Dr. Lovejoy’s work is not yet complete, and that we need to keep pushing for our planet and all its inhabitants,” the statement in part read.

Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, known as the "Godfather of Biodiversity," was a globally renowned conservation biologist and environmental advocate who brought critical attention to tropical deforestation, coined the term "biodiversity," and pioneered debt-for-nature swaps. With extensive experience at organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Lovejoy made incredibly significant contributions to our natural world. Now, his family has conserved the place where so many of his ideas and conversations began, and Dr. Lovejoy’s legacy on the site, for all time.

The conservation easement NVCT now stewards will ensure that Drover's Rest retains its historic and natural character. With diverse wildlife and a constructed pond, Drover's Rest's extensive tree canopy covers nearly all of the property, contributing to watershed quality while bordering on a Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. Viewable along the well-traveled Georgetown Pike, it is a recognized scenic priority for all to enjoy. Drover's Rest is also now a listed historic site that embodies its cherished natural and cultural heritage.


ABOUT NORTHERN VIRGINIA CONSERVATION TRUST

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting the natural, historic, and scenic resources of Northern Virginia for the benefit of current and future generations. Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected nearly 9,000 acres of critical lands and waters in both urban and rural communities alike. Through collaborative partnerships and strategic conservation efforts, NVCT works tirelessly to safeguard the region's unique landscapes and cultural heritage. For more information, visit www.nvct.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


LOVEJOY FAMILY FULL STATEMENT

"My sisters and I lived at Drover’s Rest for only a short period of time in the mid 1970’s, but it has always been a prominent part of our lives even to this day. This stunning swath of land with its historic buildings and primary forest was our father’s little slice of “Virginia Jungle” and a place that my sisters and I spent hours exploring. We were certainly somewhat oblivious to its larger significance and historical relevance in our younger years, but we came to cherish its wealth of natural history over the years. This land molded our own individual relationships to nature, resonating profoundly for us with our father’s work in the Amazon and here in the US.

Drover’s Rest is not simply a slice of the natural world but also a place where our father brought scientists, policymakers and influencers together to work on our planet’s most vital hurdles for survival, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Our father had a unique understanding of how to bring people together in a neutral space to push conservation efforts to the forefront of the national psyche. He invited so many to Drover’s Rest, where he let the wild, natural setting help explain why we all need to approach conservation issues as a system. His vision went beyond simply preserving nature towards finding a way to do so while embracing humanity and its needs and demands. So many of his dinners at Drover’s Rest launched significant conservation strategies, the gatherings replete with special guests, everyday people, gourmet meals, and fine wines.

Preserving this land and its historical relevance, both long past and also more recently as our father’s beloved home, helps us remember this incredible man and his lifelong work. Its preservation will serve as a legacy to his work and continue to remind us that Dr. Lovejoy’s work is not yet complete, and that we need to keep pushing for our planet and all its inhabitants.

Our father began the process of conserving Drover's Rest and protecting its historical components a few years before he passed. That we, his three daughters, have been able to secure his dream is deeply meaningful to us and to his neighbors, friends, colleagues and many others who remember Drover's Rest as a unique gathering place. It serves as an example of how a single family can guide land stewardship far beyond the boundaries of land ownership, speaking to the truth that each individual can make a difference in the heavy lift of protecting and preserving our planet for those to come."


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