Audubon Hires Boreal Conservation Expert, Expands International Program

Dr. Jeff Wells is named Vice President of Boreal Conservation and will lead Audubon’s efforts to protect “America’s bird nursery.”

WASHINGTON — Today, National Audubon Society announces the hire of Dr. Jeff Wells as vice president of boreal conservation, leading an initiative to protect a habitat comprised of more than one billion acres of northern forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers that span from the interior of Alaska across Canada to Newfoundland. This landscape offers some of the best-remaining intact habitat for billions of birds in the Western Hemisphere, many of which depend on the boreal forest to breed.

“We can’t protect the birds of the Western Hemisphere if we’re not protecting birds’ most important breeding grounds. No one is better suited to lead our efforts to protect the boreal forest than Dr. Jeff Wells,” said David O’Neill, chief conservation officer and senior advisor to the CEO of National Audubon Society.

Wells comes to Audubon from the Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI), a member of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC). IBCC is a collaboration of multiple organizations working on the shared goal of balancing strict protections and responsible development across the Boreal Forest. “This marks the launch of an exciting collaboration between Audubon and IBCC,” said Dr. Fritz Reid, director of boreal and Arctic conservation programs for IBCC member Ducks Unlimited Inc. “We are looking forward to combining forces, deepening science capacity and educating a broader array of people about the boreal’s significance for birds.”

“North America’s boreal forest is one of the world’s largest remaining intact forests, essential breeding grounds for billions of migratory birds,” said Wells. “Audubon has an extraordinary history of bird conservation success, and its extensive network will play a vital role in the effort to protect this region. I am excited to be leading this effort.”

As VP of Boreal Conservation, Wells will conduct applied science, utilize strategic communications that leverage public support, and build and maintain partnerships that advance IBCC conservation goals. Subject areas within this program include: biodiversity, conservation science, carbon storage, and links between Western Science and Indigenous Science/Traditional Knowledge.

About Audubon

With century-long history, Audubon is recognized as one of the world’s oldest, largest conservation organizations and is comprised of an unparalleled wingspan of 22 state offices, 41 nature centers, more than 450 local chapters and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Beyond a network of 1.4 million members, Audubon boasts a reach of 1.75 million followers on its main social media account and hundreds of thousands of additional supporters through state and regional Audubon pages and accounts. 

Throughout 2018, Audubon worked tirelessly to safeguard birds with policy initiatives on local, state and federal levels. The organization enlisted its politically diverse network nationwide to defend America’s most important and successful bird-protection law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and pass at least 52 Year of the Bird proclamations at the state and local levels all across the country. Nationally, Audubon and partners in conservation filed National Audubon Society v. Department of the Interior, a federal lawsuit defending the MBTA.

Audubon state offices and chapters led the charge to secure clean water and protect at-risk habitat for birds and people, including the approval of California’s Proposition 68, a $4 billion bond measure that will fund programs for safe parks, clean water, natural resources, climate change preparedness, and relief for the Salton Sea. 

On the East & Gulf Coasts, Audubon secured one of the most important wins for America's Everglades in a decade with the approval of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir project. Audubon’s advocacy efforts also influenced Congress to protect an additional 17,000 coastal acres in storm-prone states, including North and South Carolina, Delaware and Florida that provide important habitats and strengthen the nation’s natural infrastructure for birds and coastal communities. 

To learn more about Audubon’s highlights and wins from 2018, find the press release here. For more information on the organization’s 2016 - 2020 strategic direction, please visit here.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez,, (212) 979-3068.