Public Access to Spatial Data on Private-Land Conservation

13 Pages Posted: 25 May 2017 Last revised: 16 Jul 2017

See all articles by Adena R. Rissman

Adena R. Rissman

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jessica Owley

University of Miami - School of Law

Andrew L'Roe

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology

Amy Morris

UC Santa Cruz

Chloe Wardropper

University of Idaho, Department of Natural Resources and Society; University of Wisconsin - Madison - Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Date Written: May 25, 2017

Abstract

Information is critical for environmental governance. The rise of digital mapping has the potential to advance private-land conservation by assisting with conservation planning, monitoring, evaluation, and accountability. However, privacy concerns from private landowners and the capacity of conservation entities can influence efforts to track spatial data. We examine public access to geospatial data on conserved private lands and the reasons data are available or unavailable. We conduct a qualitative comparative case study based on analysis of maps, documents, and interviews. We compare four conservation programs involving different conservation tools: conservation easements (the growing but incomplete National Conservation Easement Database), regulatory mitigation (gaps in tracking U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species habitat mitigation), contract payments (lack of spatial data on U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program due to Farm Bill restrictions), and property-tax incentives (online mapping of Wisconsin’s managed forest tax program). These cases illuminate the capacity and privacy reasons for current incomplete or inaccessible spatial data and the politics of mapping private land. If geospatial data are to contribute fully to planning, evaluation, and accountability, we recommend improving information system capacity, enhancing learning networks, and reducing legal and administrative barriers to information access, while balancing the right to information and the right to privacy.

Keywords: conservation easements, cost share, environmental governance, Geographic Information Systems, land trusts, privacy, private-land conservation, tax incentive, transparency

Suggested Citation

Rissman, Adena R. and Owley, Jessica and L'Roe, Andrew and Morris, Amy and Wardropper, Chloe, Public Access to Spatial Data on Private-Land Conservation (May 25, 2017). 22(2) Ecology & Society 24 (2017); University at Buffalo School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-046. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973919

Adena R. Rissman

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

HOME PAGE: http://fwe.wisc.edu/facstaff/rissman

Jessica Owley (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

Andrew L'Roe

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology ( email )

1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Amy Morris

UC Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

Chloe Wardropper

University of Idaho, Department of Natural Resources and Society ( email )

875 Perimeter Drive
Moscow, ID 83844
United States

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies ( email )

Madison, WI
United States

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