Natural lands provide irreplaceable ecosystem services, such as wildlife habitat, water filtration and carbon sequestration, but in many regions, they are rapidly being converted to agricultural or urban uses. To counteract this trend, numerous land conservation programs purchase natural land but the impact of these programs is almost entirely unknown. This dissertation develops a framework for evaluating the impact of land conservation programs that incorporates theory from land economics and conservation planning. It posits that private land that enrolls in these programs will have lower economic value and higher ecological value than unenrolled lands. To test the framework, a Propensity Score Analysis is conducted for a federal conservation easement program in the northern plains of the United States. Measures of key economic characteristics (such as a tract's soil productivity, slope and distance to grain markets) and key ecological characteristics (such as a tract's accessibility to nesting pairs of migratory birds and the extent of grassland coverage surrounding a tract) are computed in a Geographic Information System. These measures are used to estimate a logistic regression model that predicts the probability that a tract of land enrolled in the program between 1990 and 2001. Consistent with expectations, tracts with lower economic value and with higher ecological value were more likely to enroll in the program. Using the predicted values from this model, enrolled tracts were matched with control tracts using four specifications of nearest neighbor matching with calipers. Under each of these specifications, the rate of grassland conversion between 2001 and 2006 on enrolled tracts was significantly lower (p<.0001) than the rate of conversion on control tracts by between 0.32 percent (for the specification with the lowest estimate) and 0.42 percent (for the specification with the highest estimate). These results indicate that the program did have a statistically significant impact on the rate of grassland conversion during this time period, although the impact was substantively slight.
|Commitee:||Ding, Chengri, Howland, Marie, Lichtenberg, Erik, Lynch, Lori|
|School:||University of Maryland, College Park|
|Department:||Urban and Regional Planning and Design|
|School Location:||United States -- Maryland|
|Source:||DAI-B 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Environmental management, Natural Resource Management, Land Use Planning|
|Keywords:||Environmental planning, Habitat protection, Impact evaluation, Land conservation, Land use change, Spatial analysis|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be