Citizens of local jurisdictions enhance plant community preservation through ballot initiatives and voter-driven conservation efforts

Benjamin J. Crain, Chad Stachowiak, Patrick F. McKenzie, James N. Sanchirico, Kailin Kroetz, Paul R. Armsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Open space areas protected by local communities may augment larger scale preservation efforts and may offer overlooked benefits to biodiversity conservation provided they are in suitable ecological condition. We examine protected areas established by local communities through ballot initiatives, a form of direct democracy, in California, USA. We compare ecological conditions of wooded habitats on local ballot protected sites and on sites protected by a state-level conservation agency. Collectively, we found few differences in ecological conditions on each protected area type. Ballot sites had greater invasive understory cover and larger trees. Community dissimilarity patterns suggested ballot sites protect a complementary set of tree species to those on state lands. Overall, geographic characteristics influenced onsite conditions more than details of how sites were protected. Thus, community-driven conservation efforts contribute to protected area networks by augmenting protection of some species while providing at least some protection to others that might otherwise be missed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1247
Number of pages11
JournalAmbio
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ballot propositions
  • Conservation measures
  • Grassroots
  • Nature reserves
  • Park systems
  • Protected area networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology

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