Lasting Landscapes: Reflections on the Role of Conservation Science in Land Use Planning

Environmental Law Institute
Date Released
March 2007

Land use and development decisions made at the local, county, and state levels have a significant and cumulative effect on the conservation of native species diversity. Through their planning and local regulatory powers, land use planners and local elected officials have the ability to influence the types, extent, and arrangement of land uses across the landscape. These patterns can have a profound influence on the viability of biodiversity far beyond municipal boundaries. However, while many planners express interest in using their tools to conserve habitat, they frequently do not have access to the scientific information necessary to integrate ecological principles into their decision-making. And, currently the barriers to incorporating conservation science into planning remain formidable. This report brings together nine of the leading thinkers in the land use planning, conservation biology, and conservation policy professions to explore how the field of conservation planning could be further advanced. Each was asked to reflect upon the role of his/her respective profession in promoting the use of science-based information in land use planning. These thought-provoking essays, introduced by Dr. Reed Noss, make it clear that a more intentional approach to conservation planning is needed.

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