Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 1076–1095 | Cite as

An Assessment of Land Conservation Patterns in Maine Based on Spatial Analysis of Ecological and Socioeconomic Indicators

  • Christopher S. Cronan
  • Robert J. Lilieholm
  • Jill Tremblay
  • Timothy Glidden


Given the nature of modern conservation acquisitions, which often result from gifts and opportunistic purchases of full or partial property rights, there is a risk that the resulting mosaic of conserved resources may not represent a coherent set of public values and benefits. With different public and private entities engaged in land conservation, one would further expect that each organization would apply separate goals and criteria to the selection and acquisition of its conservation portfolio. This set of circumstances raises an important question: what is the aggregate outcome of this land conservation process? Retrospective assessments provide a means of reviewing cumulative historical decisions and elucidating lessons for improving future conservation strategies. This study used GIS-based spatial analysis to examine the relationships of private and public conservation lands in Maine to a variety of landscape metrics in order to determine the degree to which these lands represent core ecological and socioeconomic values that are meaningful to a wide cross-section of citizens. Results revealed that the gains of past conservation efforts in Maine are counter-balanced to some extent by apparent gaps in the existing fabric of conservation holdings. Conservation lands capture a representative sample of diverse habitat, provide a large measure of protection for multiple conservation values and indicators, and offer an unusual mix of outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Yet, the majority of parcels are relatively small and isolated, and thus do not provide contiguous habitat blocks that offset ongoing processes of landscape fragmentation. Furthermore, the majority of area associated with many of the ecological metrics examined in this report is located outside the boundaries of current conservation holdings. The under-represented metrics identified in this investigation can be viewed as potential targets for new strategic conservation initiatives.


Land conservation Conservation assessment Landscape metrics Landscape planning Conservation strategies Conservation easement Land trusts Working forest protection 



Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife


Maine Natural Areas Program


Maine Department of Transportation


Maine State Planning Office


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



This investigation was supported by funding from the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of Maine, the Sustainability Solutions Initiative (National Science Foundation Grant EPS-0904155), and the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station. We greatly appreciate the kind and generous assistance of Daniel Coker at the Maine Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Janet Parker at the Maine State Planning Office, and Bethany Atkins at BWH in providing data for this assessment. We also thank Professors William Krohn and Steven Sader at the University of Maine for their thoughtful and constructive internal reviews, and four external reviewers for their perceptive insights and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Cronan
    • 1
  • Robert J. Lilieholm
    • 2
  • Jill Tremblay
    • 2
  • Timothy Glidden
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biology and EcologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.School of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Maine State Planning OfficeLand for Maine’s Future ProgramAugustaUSA

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