Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Land conservation for open space: Spatial spillovers and the impact of neighbors
Wang, Haoluan
Co-Authors: David A. Newburn, University of Maryland at College Park

Abstract: Land conservation has been widely used as a policy tool to contain urban sprawl, protect habitat, and provide ecosystem services. In the literature, protecting spatially contiguous open space has become increasingly popular as one of the criteria used by public and private conservation agencies. The spatial interactions of conservation activity stem from the proximity of one conserved open space to another, through which positive or negative spillovers might arise due to conservation agencies’ preferences for spatially contiguous protected habitat or landowners’ conservation preferences of neighboring landowners. This paper investigates spatial spillovers and the impact of neighbors on private landowners’ conservation decision for open space. A spatially-explicit panel dataset is constructed to illustrate the patterns of private land parcels on conservation easements in the Baltimore region, Maryland during 2000-2009. In the empirical analysis, we identify the endogenous spatial interactions and employ a correlated random-effects model to correct for the endogeneity of time-varying covariates. The results show that there exist positive impacts of neighbors on the likelihood of private landowners’ conservation decision. We also extend the literature by showing that such spatial spillovers diminish with distance and present a non-linear pattern (i.e., an upside down U-shape) as the number of neighbors increases. Land parcel characteristics such as parcel size and local land price are also found to influence landowners’ decision to place an easement. The results from this study shall provide significant and practical policy implications for the local government and other interested stakeholders in making future policy interventions.