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New Harvard Forest Publication: The Effect of Land Conservation on Development

December 1, 2007
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What effect do protected lands have on land conservation or development nearby in the surrounding landscape? Using information on land cover and land protection over time for three sites (western North Carolina, central Massachusetts, and central Arizona), this paper aimed to answer this question. At all sites, newly protected conservation areas tended to cluster close to preexisting protected areas. Land protection breeds more land protection. On the other hand, on two of our three sites the development rate was significantly greater in regions with more protected land. Protected lands appear to be an amenity that increases nearby development. These twin trends- increased land protection and increased development nearby previously protected lands- suggest that each conservation action should be justified and valued largely for what is protected on the targeted land, without much hope of broader conservation leverage effects on the surrounding landowners.

McDonald, R.I., C. Yuan-Farrell, C. Fievet, M. Moeller, P. Kareiva, D. Foster, T. Gragson, A. Kinzig, L. Kuby, and C. Redman. 2007. Estimating the Effect of Protected Lands on the Development and Conservation of Their Surroundings. Conservation Biology, 21(6): 1526–1536. 

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