Date of Award

8-2009

Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department

Planning and Landscape Architecture

Advisor

Cari L. Goetcheus

Committee Member

Robert F. Baldwin

Committee Member

Victor B. Shelburne

Committee Member

Umit Yilmaz

Abstract

A systematic method of assessing and applying landowner stewardship values would assist land trusts in prioritizing privately-owned parcels for conservation. Land trusts are non-profit organizations, usually with limited financial resources, diverse conservation objectives, and diverse conservation processes. When a conservation group synthesizes social research and spatial planning techniques they may rank parcels for conservation by the likeliness that those parcels will later be converted to developed uses. Landowner surveys are a means by which to assess stewardship values. Derivable from the surveys is a stewardship index (SI): a measure of such factors as a landowner’s dependence on their land for income; and their intentions to subdivide or sell their land. SI may be tested with other variables (e.g. number of acres owned) to detect causal relationships. If a person’s attitudes and behaviors are shaped by his surrounding environment, then rural landowner stewardship values must be at least in part a reflection of the landscape in which they reside. Upon the identification of causal relationships, GIS and a wide availability of spatial data permit the extrapolation of SI to the parcels of landowners not included in the original written survey. Land trusts may overlay their target conservation areas in GIS, enabling them to make informed predictions about the fate of a parcel before time and monetary resources are allocated for its conservation. Conservation plans gleaned by the process described above should anticipate uncertainties in SI generalization, and would be better to provide room for flexibility in design, as was applied in a recent case study of Greenwood County, SC.

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