Conserving Nostalgia: Exploring Private Land Protection Patterns

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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences


The dramatic loss of open space in the USA over the last 50 years has led to increased conservation efforts by public, private, and non-profit entities. Amongst private landowners, conservation easements, or conditions written into a property’s title that permanently limit how it may be used, are a popular form of land protection. Private land protection is vital for both the conservation of America’s characteristic open spaces, and to ensure the future of many threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Yet little is known about the people who are placing conservation easements on their properties, the landscape features and land use practices currently being protected under conservation easements, or the ways in which these conservation patterns will continue into the future. Regardless, private land conservation efforts are shaping the American landscape; therefore, a thorough understanding of their characteristics is needed. Given that nostalgia, or an idealized and simplified notion of the past, underlies many of the motivations private landowners have for protecting their properties, this study suggests that there is a link between the type of nostalgia motivating private land protection and the types of land and land use practices being conserved. Further, the authors contend that this phenomenon is worthy of further investigation given its potential for environmental, social, and economic impact.



Private land conservation, land donation, Nostalgia, Land protection, conservation easement