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Center for a Better South
P.O. Box 22261
Charleston, SC 29413

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Land conservation in the South is taking off. Any longtime resident knows that development has transformed the South, often for the better. But both this generation and those to follow next will need our natural infrastructure for recreation, clean water, natural industries and the dramatic beauty of functioning natural ecosystems.

We have more tools at our disposal than ever before to manage and protect these resources. With so much value to preserve, the South should take advantage of this opportunity to lead through steady state investment in conservation, assistance to local governments for conservation, and a favorable tax structure for voluntary private efforts.


Recommendation 12: Every Southern state should boost dedicated revenue and bond funding for land conservation to at least $1 per person per month, and should maintain at least an acre of state parks for every 30 residents.

Recommendation 13: Southern states should provide incentives to encourage localities to implement strategic countywide land conservation plans.

Recommendation 14: Southern states should emulate Virginia's encouragement of permanent private land conservation through state tax credits that enhance federal tax incentives for land preservation.

Talking points

  • With more and more people moving into the South, the region's land resources are increasingly being threatened, developed or fragmented.

  • Southern forests have the highest concentration of tree species diversity in the U.S. and their streams, rivers, bottomlands and swamps have the highest aquatic diversity in the continental U.S.

  • But due to market conditions, private companies are starting to sell off large forest and watershed landholdings, which makes them susceptible to development and threatens the South's land traditions.

  • While private organizations are increasing the amount of Southern protected land, Southern states generally have a long way to go to protect land for an increasingly populous and more urbanized society.

  • By increasing spending on land conservation through additional revenue streams, increased bonded indebtedness or other tools, Southern states can protect the traditional Southern link to special places.

  • States also can partner with local governments in innovative ways to preserve land for future generations.

  • States also can consider improving tax incentives for private landowners to protect more of their land.

As this chart from Chapter 6 highlights, Southerners generally spend less per capita on conservation than the average person in the eastern United States.

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