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How do private land conservation initiatives in the U.S. spread across space and time?

Authors: Yifan He*, Conservation International, Christoph Nolte, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University, Morena Mills, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, Michael B. Mascia, Moore Center for Science, Conservation International
Topics: Environment, Quantitative Methods, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: diffusion of innovation, privately protected areas (PPA), conservation easement, spatial statistics
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Critical to understanding how conservation initiatives go to scale is to quantify their spread patterns over space and time. Privately protected areas are increasingly recognized as a valuable conservation tool. The U.S. is one of the pioneers of private land conservation, with the first conservation easement established in the 1950s. Understanding the mechanism of private land conservation spread in the U.S. provides valuable lessons for conservation planning. We analyze the spatial-temporal spread patterns of private land conservation, including conservation easements and fee purchases, in several states in the U.S. east coast, using data from the Private Land Conservation Evidence System (PLACES). Through spatial statistics and panel regression methods, we quantitatively describe neighbor-to-neighbor diffusion by providing evidence of neighborhood impact on land owner’s decision to adopt private land conservation. We compare the spatial-temporal pattern observed across different protection program types and legal frameworks for private land conservation. This research contributes to a spatially explicit understanding of how private land conservation initiatives go to scale.

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