The Effects of Scale on Conservation Prioritization for the Southern Piedmont, NC
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Opportunistic conservation, in which organizations wait for a crisis situation or for landowner initiation, is increasingly being abandoned in the land trust community for conservation prioritization. The advent of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) easily allows for the integration of geospatial data into a type of suitability analysis, allowing an organization to rank prospective sites. When prioritizing efforts, however, the question of what scale at which the analysis should be completed is an inevitable challenge. In this study, both county- and regional-level prioritizations were completed for the 10 counties of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina, the operating region for the LandTrust for Central North Carolina (LandTrust). In the county-level analysis, the top 10 parcels from each county were identified, while in the regional-level analysis, the top 100 parcels overall were identified. Finally, the LandTrust’s currently protected properties were evaluated to determine their conservation value. The analysis, based on the goals of the LandTrust, incorporates species and ecosystem, water feature, and adjacency to protected property criteria. Results suggest that conservation value is not equally distributed across the region; rather, more value is found in 2 counties (Richmond and Montgomery). The LandTrust may not want to exclusively focus on these counties, however, especially due to the heavy state and federal involvement in these areas. Additionally, the agricultural counties of the region may benefit from the protection of water quality. Analysis of the LandTrust’s currently protected properties shows that while much conservation value has been protected through their efforts, there are a number of unprotected properties remaining that may have more overall value than their past projects. Therefore, it will be important for the LandTrust to continue protecting properties throughout their region, but also to incorporate the results of the regional prioritization into their conservation efforts, so as to more effectively achieve their goals.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Southern Piedmont, NC
Geographic Information System (GIS)
Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin
LandTrust for Central North Carolina (LandTrust)
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Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment