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Land-conservation strategies: the dynamic relationship between acquisition and land-use planning


  • Jean-David Gerber
  • Adena R Rissman


Nonprofit organizations often pursue land acquisition as a nonpolitical, private property rights approach to conservation of ecological and cultural resources. Yet acquisition and regulatory land-use planning are intertwined, both in terms of political strategies and conservation outcomes. Our objectives are (1) to understand the relationship between the acquisition strategies of land trusts and their involvement in land-use planning and zoning, and (2) to examine how the interactions between acquisition and land-use planning may shape conservation outcomes. We focus on the strategies of The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest conservation NGOs in the United States. Drawing from an institutional analysis framework, we compare case studies from Tehama and Monterey Counties, California. Through semistructured interviews, analysis of land-use plans and conservation-easement agreements, and GIS mapping we examine political strategies and conservation outcomes. Our analysis reveals that acquisition strategies and the regulatory context influence each other strongly, but that tensions between the politics of these strategies challenge conservation actors to deploy both effectively. Finally, we develop themes for future research, suggesting that the implementation and assessment of regional conservation efforts would benefit from an integrated strategy that recognizes the synergistic linkages between acquisition and regulatory land-use planning. Keywords: land-use planning, zoning, land trusts, land acquisition, conservation easement, conservation strategy

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-David Gerber & Adena R Rissman, 2012. "Land-conservation strategies: the dynamic relationship between acquisition and land-use planning," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(8), pages 1836-1855, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:8:p:1836-1855

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