Protecting Wildlife Connectivity Through Land Use Planning

Map of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine jurisdictions that had CD or qualifying PUD ordinances.
Map of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine jurisdictions that had CD or qualifying PUD ordinances.

Local land-use regulations can influence development patterns and mediate the deleterious impacts of residential development on wildlife. A variety of land use planning and conservation tools can achieve these results. One tool, Conservation Development (CD), is an alternative approach to the design, construction, and stewardship of a development property that achieves functional protection for wildlife, while also providing social and economic benefits to people. When implementing CD and other tools, it is important to use the best available information to ensure that building and management guidelines result in development patterns that meet local conservation goals.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) prepared a summary and technical paper for the Staying Connected Initiative (SCI) to provide an analysis of land use planning tools and practices in the northeastern United States as they relate to habitat connectivity.

The objectives of the analysis were to:

  1. Assess and evaluate the potential for conservation development to facilitate protection of wildlife habitat connectivity and benefit species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in the northeast.
  2. Identify key barriers and opportunities to influence the adoption and implementation of CD ordinances.
  3. Synthesize best management practices from current science to inform development guidelines within land-use regulations and ordinances.