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Tuesday, April 10 • 10:15am - 10:30am
CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION PLANNING: Variation in Human Influence in Conservation Easements Among US Counties: Development of a Methodology

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AUTHORS: Nakisha Fouch*, Robert Baldwin, Caitlin Dyckman, Patrick Gerard – Clemson University

ABSTRACT: Ideally, landscape and conservation planning provide sufficient coverage, spatial representation, and effective placement of land uses to support biodiversity pattern, process, and change. The use of private conservation easements (CE) has dramatically increased, and yet little is known about their cumulative landscape-level functions. Prior to undertaking analysis in a large, nationwide study, we tested an assessment tool on three representative counties. We assessed the relative impact of interacting spatial, social, and environmental attributes as related to the Human Modification Index (HMI). The HMI, a statistically derived spatial measure of landscape condition, provides a strong indicator of land-use transformation. We hypothesized that on CEs mean HMI would be lower (identifying less human modification) than mean HMI on non-CE parcels. This was tested via pairwise parcel sampling, comparing randomly selected points for CE and non-CE parcels having similar topographic, land cover, and size characteristics. At the parcel level, CE lands did not differ from non-CE lands, for 2 of the 3 counties. This third county showed a lower mean HMI in CE versus non-CE lands. Because CEs occur in various land covers ranging from small infill parcels to large forested or agricultural parcels, it was hypothesized that size and landscape context would influence the result. We hypothesized that small parcels, such as those typically found in more urban areas, would have a high edge to area ratio, and also a higher HMI. In the first two counties 1/2 counties were found to have a CE parcel size inversely related to HMI and both counties had non-CE parcel size inversely related to HMI, the third county showed both CE parcels and non-CE parcel sizes inversely related to HMI. Findings suggest that heterogeneity of land-uses, geographic context, and the degree to which CEs influence the quality of the landscape may depend on spatial context.

Tuesday April 10, 2018 10:15am - 10:30am CDT
LaSalle 5 (7th Floor)

Attendees (6)