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Conservation via Satellite

Leveraging Remote Sensing to Monitor the Pingree Easement

Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization | Spring 2006

James N. Levitt

Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization

In the spring of 1999, Keith Ross, Frank Reed, Jerry Bertrand, and Bill King made a trip to Cambridge for a brainstorming session with several Kennedy School faculty and staff about the Pingree project, a private forest conservation effort of unprecedented scale and novel design being launched by the New England Forestry Foundation. The proposed project aimed to buy a Working Forest Conservation Easement on more than 750,000 acres (more than 300,000 hectares) of private forestland owned by the Pingree family in northern Maine. By buying the easement from the family, NEFF would effectively extinguish any rights to develop the land for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes, assuring that it would remain as working forestland owned by the Pingrees, as well as a resource providing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, in perpetuity.

This paper addresses the perpetual task of efficiently and effectively monitoring the physical changes that occur on protected landscapes and a new innovative solution: the use of satellite and aerial remote sensing technology by organizations such as land trusts that have legal and ongoing responsibility to enforce working forest conservation easements and similar multiparty land protection agreements. The bulk of this essay focuses on a highly ambitious effort spearheaded by researchers at the University of Maine and conservationists associated with the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) to employ this rapidly evolving technology to monitor a WFCE.

Download: Conservation via Satellite (PDF, 1.28 M)

Read More: Conservation, Environment, Globalization, Innovation, Technology, United States

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