How does local land use planning incorporate land conservation? An assessment from New Hampshire

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Student Showcase of Research & Engagement Fall 2019
Powers, Mattea
The development of land results in changes and impacts to the landscape. Conservation science has long recognized that development can alter habitats and ecosystems in numerous ways and land use planning has been promoted as a way to reduce impacts and protect our resources. In the United States, most development decisions are made at the local level by Planning Boards or Commissions and, therefore, it is at this scale where conservation principles often need to be adopted. Despite calls for incorporating principles of ecology and conservation biology in land use planning (Stokes et al., 2009; Miller et al., 2008), there has been little research to assess the extent to which this has happened. This project investigates if, and how, New Hampshire municipalities are using the local land use planning process to conserve land, to preserve biodiversity, and to protect natural resources. Municipal land use documents, such as Master Plans, land use regulations, and local Planning Board meeting records, are being analyzed to determine if conservation tools have been incorporated in the local planning process to help assess how conservation planning is being applied by New Hampshire communities.