Document Type


Publication Title

Biological Conservation



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Publisher location

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Abstract/ Summary

Protected areas (PAs) are an important component of the global conservation strategy and understanding the past drivers of land protection can inform future conservation planning. Socioeconomic and policy drivers of protection vary through time and space, but a lack of spatio-temporal data limit the ability to conduct retrospective analyses of PAs. We developed a spatio-temporal database covering 90% of area in PAs in northern New England in the U.S. to quantify trends in the extent, rate of increase, ownership characteristics, and level of protection from 1800 to 2010. We found an accelerating rate of protection and an increase in the proportion of privately owned PAs. There was an increase in reliance on conservation easements for protection, and an increase in the proportion of PAs that allow resource extraction. We found three distinct time periods of PA growth, each characterized by new policies and a broadening set of conservation tools. The era 1999–2010 had the most rapid rate of land protection, representing more than 4-fold and 20-fold increases over the eras 1980–1999 and 1800–1979, respectively. We projected future PA growth based on past trajectories and found that current goals to protect 70% of New England’s forests from development would require a 42% increase in the rate of protection over the 1999–2010 era. Our analysis of the historic and current trends in protection in northern New England underscores: (1) the significant influence of expanded policy and economic drivers guiding protection and (2) the importance of developing new conservation innovations for achieving future gains in protection.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Meyer, S.R., Cronan, C.S., Lilieholm, R.J., Johnson, M.L., & Foster, D.R. 2014. Land conservation in northern New England: Historic trends and alternative conservation futures. Biological Conservation, Volume 174, June 2014, Pages 152–160

Publisher Statement

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.03.016


post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)



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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.