The United States is a diverse country that has seen its naturally defined ecosystems steadily divided, legally and administratively, into public and private lands. Unlike other parts of the developed world, the United States, with only several hundred years of European settlement and with its growing population and wealth, is just beginning to feel the effects of uncontrolled sprawl out of the cities and into the countryside. Although private lands predominate in the United States, conservation efforts have focused primarily on lands in the public domain. To a dispassionate observer this might seem odd; after all, nearly half of all species threatened with extinction occur on private lands, and nearly all threatened species have at least part of their distribution on private lands. An objective appraisal of conservation efforts, therefore, suggests that finding ways to use private lands while conserving their natural heritage should be of primary concern to conservation biologists. While we have been preoccupied in struggles to protect public lands from never‐ending assaults, an alarming trend has occurred, largely unnoticed, on the “back forty”: we are losing private lands to commercial and residential development at rates seldom equaled in history. Consider these numbers. From 1982 to
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 1999
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