Protected area networks in an urbanizing landscape

Katherine H. Fenn
The selection of land parcels for preservation and protection (i.e. the designation of a "Protected Area") is inherently a human social process engaging a complex suite of economic, political, and environmental factors. Since the 1960s, the U.S. federal government has encouraged local engagement in land conservation through new funding opportunities. Consequently, in some states a diverse collection of agencies, both public and private, have participated in the selection process. The following
more » ... ess. The following research examines whether diverse conservation organizations, sometimes acting with coordinated goals and sometimes acting independently, can collectively assemble a Protected Area network which aligns with some basic principles of biological conservation network design. The spatial patterns of one emerging Protected Forest (PF) network in the New Jersey Highlands are used a case study. This PF network consists of all forested habitat within the New Jersey Highlands Protected Areas. The primary finding are 1) although most large forest fragments have more than 80% of their land protected, medium and smaller-size fragments have less protection, 2) land cover change within 250 meters of PF boundaries is highly variable and has both increased and decreased aspects of landscape permeability along those boundaries for forest species, and 3) land acquisition since 2000 has been proactive, relative to the threat of urban development. Because PA networks should represent and sustain regional biodiversity and ecosystem function, these findings have implications for future PA management. The pattern of protection of large habitat remnants in this region is favorable for sustaining existing ecological communities and processes. The increase in landscape permeability along the boundaries of some Protected Forests is also favorable because this facilitates species movements among protected habitat patches. However, because land acquisition has been highly proactive, the greatest amount of protection has occurred in the norther [...]
doi:10.7282/t35b05wt fatcat:3l6t7duenfecndyghsfjpkwzju