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Protecting land from development provides numerous ecological and social benefits, but many people debate whether it hurts or helps local economies. Some worry that land protection will inhibit economic growth by restricting local resource use or building opportunities. Others counter that land protection can support local economies because it promotes sustainable resource use, tourism and recreation and attracts new residents and businesses.
To assess these competing views, we looked at New England. Since 1990, these six states from Connecticut to Maine have protected more than 5 million acres of land, creating a unique natural experiment in conservation.
Team - Methods - Conservation - Initiatives - Globe
Our interdisciplinary team has developed quasi-experimental methods to evaluate conservation initiatives across the globe, and has studied the New England region in depth. Recently, we worked together to examine how land protection in New England affected key economic indicators for the 1,500 towns and cities in the region from 1990 through 2015.
Our results show that saving land can also help economies. Over those 25 years, land conservation moderately increased local employment numbers and the labor force, without reducing new housing permits.
Prior - Research - Impacts - Areas - Parks
Prior research on the economic impacts of protected areas has generally focused on large, publicly owned parks both globally and nationally. In the western United States, for example, the federal government manages almost half of all land, and population densities are low.
But the future of land conservation is likely to be more local and more private. New protected areas will be smaller and in areas that are already densely settled. More of this protection will occur through purchasing conservation rights and creation of private land trusts, rather than through direct acquisition by government agencies.
Words - Future - Land - Conservation - Ownership
In other words, the future of land conservation will resemble ownership patterns in New England, where hundreds of thousands of private owners hold more than 80 percent of the land. Since 1990,...
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