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The Biodiversity That Protected Areas Can’t Capture

The Biodiversity That Protected Areas Can’t Capture

How Private Ranch, Forest, And Tribal Lands Sustain Biodiversity

(p.33) 3 The Biodiversity That Protected Areas Can’t Capture
Stitching the West Back Together
Richard L. KnightSusan Charnley
University of Chicago Press

National parks, wilderness areas, preserves, and other areas designated for species protection are often too small or not located in areas of highest biodiversity, most productive soils, or most favorable water resources to support viable populations of area-sensitive species. Private and tribal lands in large working forest and ranch landscapes provide significant additional support of wild biodiversity while still retaining their productive capacity. Examples from the Colorado Plateau, the Southern Rocky Mountain ecoregion, and the Oregon Coast Range illustrate the biodiversity benefits of private and tribal working lands. Species diversity is typically greater in the lower elevations where working ranches and forests operate, rather than in higher elevations where designated protection areas often are established. Private ranchlands with grazing leases on adjacent public lands provide a buffer. A mosaic of public, private, and tribal forests and rangelands that includes protected areas may be the most effective for maintaining biodiversity.

Keywords:   biodiversity, productive capacity, Colorado Plateau, Southern Rocky Mountain ecoregion, Oregon coast range, species protection

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