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Wildlife Conservation and Private Protected Areas: The Discrepancy Between Land Trust Mission Statements and Their Perceptions

Dayer, Ashley A., Rodewald, Amanda D., Stedman, Richard C., Cosbar, Emily A., Wood, Eric M.
Environmental management 2016 v.58 no.2 pp. 359-364
animals, conservation areas, habitat conservation, prioritization, surveys, wildlife, wildlife habitats, wildlife management, United States
In 2010, land trusts in the U.S. had protected nearly 50 million acres of land, with much of it providing habitat for wildlife. However, the extent to which land trusts explicitly focus on wildlife conservation remains largely unknown. We used content analysis to assess land trust involvement in wildlife and habitat conservation, as reflected in their mission statements, and compared these findings with an organizational survey of land trusts. In our sample of 1358 mission statements, we found that only 17 % of land trusts mentioned “wildlife,” “animal,” or types of wildlife, and 35 % mentioned “habitat” or types. Mission statements contrasted sharply with results from a land trust survey, in which land trusts cited wildlife habitat as the most common and significant outcome of their protection efforts. Moreover, 77 % of land trusts reported that at least half of their acreage protected wildlife habitat, though these benefits are likely assumed. Importantly, mission statement content was not associated with the percentage of land reported to benefit wildlife. These inconsistencies suggest that benefits to wildlife habitat of protected land are recognized but may not be purposeful and strategic and, thus, potentially less useful in contributing toward regional wildlife conservation goals. We outline the implications of this disconnect, notably the potential omission of wildlife habitat in prioritization schema for land acquisition and potential missed opportunities to build community support for land trusts among wildlife enthusiasts and to develop partnerships with wildlife conservation organizations.