While more public funding sources have emerged recently for conservation finance, particularly around working farms, landowners with means and motivation remain a staple of the private conservation process. These landowners are largely white, and their properties most often located in rural and suburban areas. The distribution of conserved land and public open space has followed suit, with low-income communities and communities of color markedly deprived of access to privately conserved open spaces and less frequently affiliated with private land conservation as land donors, visitors, members, staff or board.
How does a farmer with no desire to keep growing crops become a catalyst for financial value and land preservation? The Washington Farmland Trust worked with a farmer at the end of his career to craft a financial package that would keep his land from developers, sustain ecosystem services, and set forth a model for generating impact-investment participation in land preservation around Seattle.
Three new case studies from preservation advocates Wildland and Woodlands show how collaborations to preserve land in New England pay off in employment, tax revenue, and housing investment. In each process, local leaders with heft in capital, policy and community trust worked together to craft an outdoor-focused strategy that encouraged economic growth. The case studies focus on land types that leaders across the nation can adapt to their home turf.
*It should be noted that with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many conservation banks along with other conservation projects are facing uncertain futures because the pandemic has put a stress on current and future funding. For many years, conservationists, landowners, and developers have met at crossroads when handling cases of endangered species with habitats on private lands. Conservationists sought to ensure the protection of the habitat, landowners hoped to maximize land value and avoid land-use restrictions under the Endangered Species Act, and developers sought to develop land without paying complicated and large mitigation sums. The alleviation to these conflicts of interest...
What makes efforts to preserve land harmonize with efforts to promote commerce? In this article, we review several examples. Entrepreneurs learn to bolster terrain for hikers (who drink beer), historically sensitive consumers, and fellow merchants. These examples show how creative approaches to promoting conservation and community-based development can yield ongoing benefits.