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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Economic and ecological impacts of land protection
  • Principal investigator: Jonathan Thompson (
  • Institution: Harvard Forest
  • Primary contact: Lucy Lee (
  • Team members: Alexey Kalinin; Danelle Laflower; Lucy Lee; Valerie Pasquarella; Mayra Rodriguez Gonzalez; Jonathan Thompson
  • Abstract:

    Land-use change is arguably the greatest threat to the ability of ecosystems to sustain food production and forest resources. Concerns about the loss of working lands have fueled large public investment in land protection, yet land protection remains controversial due to concerns about restrictions on local development, loss of tax revenue, and whether ecological benefits can be attributed to protected status. Our overarching goal is to provide analyses that will improve decision-making concerning land protection. To do so, we will systematically assess the local economic and ecological impacts of land protection across 30-years throughout the six-state New England region. We will compile and analyze panels with data spanning from 1990 to the present for more than 1500 towns and cities in the six New England states. We will combine economic and ecological indicators with a comprehensive, parcel-level dataset of land protected since 1990.