My research explores the use of community-based conservation as a management tool to protect natural resources, particularly vernal pools on private lands in Maine. By evaluating the community-based model in practice, my research will determine whether local planning initiatives are a more efficient and cost-effective way to meet regulatory objectives and ensure the long-term viability of the State’s vernal pool resources. Determining whether community-based efforts yield the results modeled, planned, and anticipated is critical, and the results of my research will inform local town planning efforts in Maine and beyond. By identifying barriers and opportunities for conserving relatively small natural resources on private lands, my work will offer a research framework for designing a participatory decision-making process producing effective policy outcomes and “on-the-ground” protection of significant natural resources on private lands.
In Other Words
In North America, we still tend to think of community-based conservation as a paradigm for conserving biodiversity in developing countries where people directly sustain themselves on local resources, yet loss of biodiversity due to land conversion is of increasing concern in our own backyards. In Maine, residential development pressure presents an ever-increasing stress on forest land, with one study finding that the Lower Penobscot River Watershed is first in the nation for projected increases in housing density and a resulting decrease in contiguous forest cover (Stein et al. 2005). By working with landowners, municipalities, and citizen groups, my research will determine under what conditions private property owners will cooperate with resource agencies to enhance the sustainability of forestlands.