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Spatial and temporal patterns of public and private land protection within the Blue Ridge and Piedmont ecoregions of the eastern US

Author:
Lacher, Iara  Akre, Thomas  Mcshea, William J.  Fergus, Craig  


Journal:
LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING


Issue Date:
2019


Abstract(summary):

Protected lands are an established method for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services. Moreover, agencies and organizations are increasingly looking to private lands as places for new protected lands establishment. However, the effectiveness of protected lands in guarding against the loss of species or services can vary based on their coverage of habitat and species, management strategy, and their size and configuration across the landscape. We compare protected lands patches between two adjacent ecoregions, the public lands centric Blue Ridge and the private land dominated Piedmont, using estimates of land cover, management practices, and landscape configuration as a proxy for their relative contribution towards the long-term conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. We conducted a hotspot analysis to evaluate geographic changes in spatial clustering of protected lands establishment between the years 1985 and 2015. In addition, we evaluated climate resiliency of protected lands patches using metrics developed by Anderson et al. (2016). We found that, compared to public lands, private protected lands contain larger amounts of agriculture than forest, allow for more utilitarian use than public lands, and are less resilient to climatic change. Furthermore, although total area of private protected lands increased since 1985, they are smaller and more disconnected, contributing less to overall connectivity of the protected lands network. To improve upon past efforts, we must improve management accounting and practice and prioritize land for protection that improves coverage, network connectivity, and climate resilience.


Page:
91---102


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