Conserving Land, Square Foot by Square Foot

We almost always talk of land conservation goals in terms of acres, especially when thinking at the landscape scale. But 70 percent of the Chesapeake watershed’s population lives in urban areas. And that’s where counting conservation progress in smaller increments is just as important to our quality of life.


Casey Trees, a non profit organization focused on restoring and protecting the tree canopy of Washington DC, is beginning to get into the conservation easement business. In 2018, the organization worked with the District’s Department of Housing and Community Development to place easements on four small vacant properties the agency was slated to auction off. The easements require about 95 percent of the land to remain available for planning trees and other vegetation. A recent article in Bay Journal tells the full story.


From urban conservation easements, vest-pocket parks, and community gardens to recreation and green space corridors connecting cities to surrounding protected lands, landscape-scale conservation must enhance the quality of life of all urban citizens. Lots of Chesapeake watershed organizations are working on this, including a number of members of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. But there is much more to do, and we need to continue to articulate the many connections between urban and rural needs and landscape-scale conservation goals.