The Environmental Law Institute conducts research on opportunities for and barriers to integrated conservation in community planning.
- Market Research on the Planning Community (2009): With the help of an experienced communications firm, ELI conducted extensive market research on how to motivate local planners and decision-makers to incorporate conservation biology into land-use decisions. We found that planners need communication tools designed to help them convey that conservation is a key part of being green and sustainable and that including conservation in community plans is cost-effective and results in tangible benefits. We also found that conservation biologists need to be better informed about and more engaged in the planning process in order to ensure that local plans and land-use policies yield positive outcomes for conservation.
- Nature-Friendly Land Use Practices at Multiple Scales (2009). This book is organized around eight detailed case studies of private land developers, local governments, and public agencies that have worked across jurisdictional and ecological boundaries to effectively address habitat conservation. It includes two essays by leading conservation biologists who link planning at scale with sound land-use decisions, and articulates six lessons or "best practices" for design and implementation of programs and projects that incorporate effective conservation at multiple scales.
- Mapping High-Risk Critical Habitats (2009): Funded by the Wildlife Habitat Policy Research Program, the study was carried out by Colorado State University and the Environmental Law Institute. It identifies where the pace and extent of urban and exurban development will soon be a significant threat to the key wildlife habitat identified in the State Wildlife Action Plans over five different time horizons in six case study states.
- Lasting Landscapes: Reflections on the Role of Conservation Science in Land Use Planning(2007): In 2006, ELI asked leading thinkers in the planning, conservation biology, and conservation policy professions to reflect upon their respective profession's role in promoting the use of science-based information in planning. Their thought-provoking essays make it clear that a more intentional approach to conservation planning is needed.
- Planning with Nature: Biodiversity Information in Action (2003): Working in partnership with NatureServe, ELI conducted research to assess when and where the use of biological information is required or authorized by state or local laws or policies. The report makes the case that there is ample authority at the state level for decision-makers to require more consultation with Natural Heritage Programs on the impacts of proposed decisions on biological diversity.