MORE THAN BUCKS AND ACRES: ASSESSING THE VALUE OF CONSERVED LANDS
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Many non-profit conservation organizations resort to measuring their success in term of acres protected and dollars raised, also known as ‘bucks and acres’, for lack of better indicators. However, it is unclear how well bucks and acres actually measure progress toward mission driven goals such as the conservation of biodiversity. Many land trusts are now in the process of creating new indicators to better measure their progress. This study assesses the conservation benefits of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy lands at both a landscape and parcel level. My analysis focused on 1) parcel-specific and cumulative conservation benefits of biodiversity protection, 2) landscape connectivity, and 3) scenic viewsheds. The conservancy has protected high proportions of Significant Natural Heritage Areas when compared to other private lands in the study area. However, private lands tended to have higher modeled species biodiversity than lands protected by the conservancy. Other commonly observed spatial benefits provided by Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy projects were contiguity with other protected parcels, buffering of publically protected lands, and protection of scenic viewsheds from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. It is important for land trusts to be able to demonstrate that they are meeting their goals to private funders, their members, as well as to the general public. These findings will assist the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in measuring their conservation success, demonstrating their progress to funding organizations and the public, and to serve as a baseline measure.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
SubjectSouthern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment