In Texas, close to 95% of the land lies in private ownership, which means relying on collaborative solutions and public-private partnerships to support the stewardship and conservation of natural resources for the public good.
While many organizations have ongoing land conservation efforts in place, less than 4% of the state is currently protected from development under federal, state, local, or private mechanisms, and only 3% is accessible for public recreational use.
Studies have shown that Texas is losing more high-quality working lands to non-agricultural uses than any other state in the nation. Once these lands are lost to development, they will no longer be able to produce food, fuel, or the same level of environmental benefit as before. It is crucial to protect these resources for generations to come.
From 2012 – 2017, Texas lost an average of 657 acres per day to development. However, a recent landowner survey showed that close to 80% of landowners are open to participating in a permanent land protection program.
With a projected state population increase of nearly 73% in the next 50 years, from 29.7M to 51.5M, Texas will be facing challenges to protect its natural resources. Without a dedicated funding source for land conservation and an aging landowner population coupled with land development opportunities, a call to action for proactive and permanent land conservation is needed.
For every $1 invested in land conservation, we can expect a 20-year return in the economic value of nearly $12 in natural goods and services.
For more information and the full report from NRI, click here.
Smith, L.A., A.A. Lund, R.R. Lopez. 2023. Conserving Texas: Quantifying Ecological Return on Investment. Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Research Report Number 2023-1. College Station, Texas, USA.