Treasured Philadelphia Landscape Protected Forever

Natural Lands Trust placed a conservation easement on 38 acres of Awbury Arboretum, located in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. Under an easement, property remains in private ownership, but is protected from future development in perpetuity.

Awbury Arboretum is a vibrant landscape with a rich history. In 1852, Henry Cope purchased land in then-rural East Germantown on which to build a summer home for his family. Named Awbury after the Cope family’s ancestral village of Avebury, Wiltshire, England, the estate’s stone manor reflects Quaker ideals of simplicity. The 55-acre setting includes a variety of habitats: wetlands, wooded headwaters, stately trees (including the second-largest river birch in Pennsylvania), wildflower meadows, formal gardens, and community garden plots—all linked by trails.

Open to the public free of charge as a public park and arboretum for nearly 100 years, Awbury Arboretum is an open space refuge in a densely populated urban setting.
“We are thrilled to help ensure Awbury Arboretum, which has been a beloved oasis of green in Philadelphia for a century, will remain so forever”, said Molly Morrison, Natural Lands Trust’s president. “Whether city, suburb, or countryside, we must value and protect the places that revitalize our spirit and bind our communities together.”
After experiencing population losses for decades, Philadelphia has begun growing again. Since 2010, the city’s population has increased by more than two percent. Such growth makes the city’s remaining green spaces of even greater value as places for people to connect to nature and to each other. Over the last five years, Natural Lands Trust has worked with a variety of partners to permanently preserve more than 400 acres of open space in Philadelphia.
“It is impossible to adequately convey our gratitude to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its financial support that makes this permanent conservation easement possible, and to Natural Lands Trust for their agreement to assume the perpetual care of the conservation easement on our historic landscape,” said Chris van de Velde, Awbury Arboretum’s general manager. “As this conservation easement is formally put in place, a special ‘thanks’ must go to the creative and collaborative staff of Natural Lands Trust. They give clarity to their motto: ‘land for life.’”

Support for this conservation success was provided by City Parks Association of Philadelphia, PA DCED – Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program, PA DCNR – Community Conservation Partnerships Program, and Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation.

Natural Lands Trust is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, millions of people enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit

(News release provided by Natural Lands Trust)