Landscape-scale conservation initiatives rely on conservation easements to protect the character and function of natural, cultural, and working landscapes. America 2050 and Regional Plan Association have created a Northeast Landscape Initiatives Inventory and Atlas to research how these initiatives use easements and other conservation tools to achieve their goals.
The Fall 2011 issue of Law and Contemporary Problems, a faculty-edited journal of the Duke University Law School, is devoted entirely to conservation easements and the role landscape-scale conservation planning has in making them effective. The articles also discuss how to assess their conservation benefits and how to incorporate easements into broader regional land use planning efforts.
Here are a couple highlights from the articles:
"Conservation easements may result in only limited
reductions of habitat loss, since projected development could shift to
unprotected parcels in the region. Conservation easements do appear to
cluster development, enabling managers to allow for prescribed fires and
unsuppressed wildfires by preserving large unfragmented areas. One
important implication of these findings is that it may be more effective
to target moderately threatened areas for conservation, striking a
balance between threat and the cost of acquisition."
"As a measure of accountability, land preservation
organizations should seek to employ maximum net public-benefit criteria
that include ecosystem-service values, which are incorporated into the
setting of landscape-scale-preservation goals and the selection of lands
for the acquisition of conservation easements."
Exploring Net Benefit Maximization: Conservation Easements and the Public-Private Interface, Julie Ann Gustanski and John B. Wright
RPA and America 2050 are working across political jurisdictions to produce a comprehensive inventory of landscape conservation initiatives that protect watersheds, wildlife habitat, and other natural processes at the appropriate geographic scale. The project was launched in November, 2010 with the support from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area.
Visit the website to learn more: Northeast