Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Where's the conservation in 'conservation development?'

Date:
February 19, 2014
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Conservation development (CD) regulations in the western United States has been evaluated in a new study, including the degree to which CD is permitted and encouraged by county planning agencies. The study finds that despite strong economic incentives and widespread implementation, several issues currently limit CD’s effectiveness for conserving biological diversity. Reviewing land-use regulations in 414 counties in 11 western states, the authors of the study found that 32-percent of local planning jurisdictions have adopted CD ordinances, mostly during the last decade.

Conservation development subdivisions combine housing and open space like these residences in northern Colorado.
Credit: Sarah Reed

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Colorado State University (CSU) looks at conservation development (CD) regulations in the western United States and evaluates the degree to which CD is permitted and encouraged by county planning agencies. The study finds that despite strong economic incentives and widespread implementation, several issues currently limit CD's effectiveness for conserving biological diversity.

Reviewing land-use regulations in 414 counties in 11 western states, the authors of the study found that 32-percent of local planning jurisdictions have adopted CD ordinances, mostly during the last decade. In this type of development, homes are built on smaller lots and clustered together while the remaining portions of the property are protected for conservation purposes. Such purposes include use by endangered wildlife for feeding or nesting habitat, protection of watershed features, and maintaining connectedness with other land. CD has contributed up to 25% of the private lands protected in the U.S..

In their review, the authors found that an ecological site analysis was required in only 13-percent of the adopted ordinances .This analysis is key to identifying the features of the property that should be protected, and allows for biological diversity to be sustained and potentially restored at some point in the future. In addition, results showed that few of the ordinances provided guidance on size or location of protected open space, or required monitoring or oversight after development was completed and, in some cases, the protection was of limited duration.

"Wildlife biologists should be involved in the design, construction, and stewardship phases of development," said Sarah Reed, the study's lead author and an Associate Conservation Scientist with WCS and faculty affiliate in the Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Department at CSU, "Without these important components, conservation development will be conservation in name only."

Last year, Reed co-authored a study that evaluated home sales in more than 200 CD subdivisions across five counties in Colorado. The study found that homes in subdivisions that incorporated protected open space command prices 20 to 29 percent higher than homes in comparable conventional subdivisions. This, along with incentives such as "density bonuses" (allowances for a greater number of housing units per project), make CD attractive to developers. CD accounts for 3-16% of new residential development in the U.S..

Reed said, "It's great that developers and homeowners are seeing strong economic incentives to participate in CD, but we need to make sure that CD subdivisions are achieving conservation benefits as well."

In an effort to assess additional factors contributing to counties adopting CD ordinances, the authors reviewed many indicators such as human population dynamics, land-use composition, and socio- economic factors.

Their results showed that CD ordinances were adopted in counties with recent increases in human population size and density that were 4-7 times greater than counties without CD ordinances. In addition, counties that adopted CD ordinances had 2-3 times more urban, suburban, and exurban development. The authors opined that these patterns likely reflect increased government resources and capacity for land use planning in counties with growing populations, as well as concern regarding loss of open space.

Reed said, "As the economy recovers and home building expands, we have an opportunity to implement better guidelines for CD, to ensure that subdivisions are designed to protect important wildlife habitats, are connected to other natural areas, and that homeowners have the capacity to steward the protected lands over time."

The study notes that CD ordinances were more common in counties with professional planners and in states with model ordinances for CD. In most cases, however, few biological experts are on staff and very little time is devoted to biological conservation in land-planning. Still, just eight percent of CD ordinances encouraged consultation with a biological expert or compliance with a conservation plan.

In their conclusions, the authors call for conservation scientists to improve CD effectiveness by volunteering and sharing their expertise, engaging in land-use policy, and educating and working with local planning staff and government officials, so that biological diversity conservation can be more of a focal point and better incorporated into land-use planning.

The study, "Guidelines and Incentives for Conservation Development in Local Land-Use Regulations," appears in the February print edition of Conservation Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. SARAH E. REED, JODI A. HILTY, DAVID M. THEOBALD. Guidelines and Incentives for Conservation Development in Local Land-Use Regulations. Conservation Biology, 2014; 28 (1): 258 DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12136

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Where's the conservation in 'conservation development?'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219142402.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2014, February 19). Where's the conservation in 'conservation development?'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219142402.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Where's the conservation in 'conservation development?'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219142402.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: Ebola's Economic Impact Could Eclipse SARS

Breakingviews: Ebola's Economic Impact Could Eclipse SARS

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 18, 2014) The virus ravaging Africa has yet to spread elsewhere. Yet Asia’s SARS crisis in 2003 showed how changes to behaviour can hurt the economy more than the actual disease, says Breakingviews' Una Galani. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins